“Hunter, did you hear about what happened to Ryder the other day? I can’t believe he stooped so low.”

“Susan, did you hear about Amber? She’s been having an affair with Tyron. Yeah, she’s off her rocker. Oh yea, but please make sure to pray for her.”

I hate gossip. Don’t you? Unless you’re some twisted devil worshipper who likes hurting people, I’m sure you agree with me. Now there’s nothing wrong with sharing prayer requests with people but we have to be honest with our motives in sharing certain information. Sometimes we camouflage gossip as a prayer request. I’ve done it before. It makes us feel better when we use “please pray for” as a disclaimer before we share information with someone with whom we have no business sharing it. How easy it is to come across as so high and righteous like we are actually worried about someone because of their struggles. But let me ask you something…do you pray for that person? It’s easy to say we’re going to, but do we really do it? I know I don’t a lot of times.

We so easily justify gossip as a “little sin.”

It’s not that big of a deal. Everyone does it anyway. But just because gossip is so prevalent in our society, it is wrong. Dead wrong! Unfortunately, it’s a sin that runs rampant among followers of Jesus as well as those who don’t follow Him. But it’s so easy to do and can be so hard to hold back our thoughts. And I’m not talking about venting our frustrations with a trusted mentor or spouse. There’s a difference. It’s good for us to talk about our feelings and frustrations. That’s healthy. Rick Warren describes gossip as, “talking about a situation with somebody who is neither a part of the solution nor a part of the problem.” When we do this, our actions turn from confiding in someone to gossiping. I wonder how many of us repent of our gossip.

Words Are So Powerful.

They can either bring life or death (Proverbs 18:21). Literally. Ever heard of someone taking their own life because of others’ abuse? I have. Too many times. We’ve all been hurt by things others have said about us. It stinks. And now with Twitter and all these social media outlets in this day and age, it’s so easy for anyone and everyone to spew venom and hate whenever they want. You know the saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me?” Yeah well that’s a bunch of BULLHONKY! Why do we think we have the right to tell everyone what we think? My dad and mama were so right (something I’m learning more and more). We should keep our mouths shut if we don’t have anything nice to say.

Gossip’s no different in my line of work. It often goes like this: “Fred, how bad was Jamal the other game. I don’t understand why coach continues to play him. He’s been terrible lately. He turned the ball over every time he got it.” Or, “We’ll never win with Othello as our captain. He’s a terrible leader.” It’s the same kind of talk that goes on in any company (and especially in professional sports). It’s destructive, useless and selfish.

“Misery loves company”…as the saying goes.

It’s so true. I’ve certainly been there. When I wasn’t playing I almost unconsciously gravitated toward those in the same position with the same attitudes. You begin to hear the whispers. You inevitably sense the distance that forms between teammates and coaches. You feel the walls and barriers building up. These things happen gradually but before you know it, relationships are destroyed and the hopes and dreams of the team are crushed. Bye bye championship. Gossip ain’t no joke. It’s that real. It does nothing but tear apart friendships, marriages, teams, families and even churches.

What’s the solution?

Keep your mouth shut. God says it will save us a lot of trouble (Proverbs 21:23).  Kidding, but seriously. We all need to listen more and talk less. That’s why God gave us two ears and one mouth. We all need to go to God with our thoughts, frustrations, concerns and prayers before we air them anywhere. That means Facebook too! God also calls us to pray for others. He says to pray for those who hurt for you, gossip about you and even persecute you (Matthew 5:44). That’s crazy isn’t it? That’s radical. But there’s unfathomable power in prayer. Prayer releases us from the hurt, hate and impure motives that we have in our hearts.

Don’t gossip?

It’s more harmful than we could ever imagine. Instead, use your words to speak life and build each other up. Spend your energy instilling hope instead of spreading hate. Think before you speak. Examine your heart. Ask God, plead with Him to give you the strength to not gossip today…this week, or ever again! God can do anything and He can help you do this. I promise it will transform all of your relationships.

I’m going to close us out today with a few challenging words from The Living One. I pray that they penetrate and transform your heart toward LOVE!

“Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
(Proverbs 15:4)
“Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.”
(Proverbs 4:24)
“Slandering others makes you a fool. Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
(Proverbs 10:18-19)
“The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.”
(Proverbs 10:32)
“With their words, the godless destroy their friends.” V.11-“Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.”
(Proverbs 11:9)
“Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”
(Proverbs 13:3)
“The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips. Rumors are dainty morsels that sink into one’s heart.”
(Proverbs 18:7-8)
“Don’t betray another person’s secret. Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation.”
(Proverbs 25:9-10)

By Wells Thompson