A recent news story piqued my interest. Four Hooksett, New Hampshire town employees with 46 years of service between them were fired, in part for gossiping and discussing rumors of an improper relationship between the town administrator and another employee that Hooksett residents now agree were not true. The administrator complained, and after an investigation the town council fired the women, finding, "Gossip, whispering, and an unfriendly environment are causing poor morale and interfering with the efficient performance of town business."

"When I was given my termination papers, I just looked at the gentlemen that were present in the room and I said, 'You've got to be kidding!'" said fired worker Sandy Piper, who insisted her comments weren't out of line. "We discussed it on a lunch break, and then it ended."

The same thing happens everyday (except for the termination part) in offices all over this great land. Gossip happens everyday in neighborhoods, car pools and in annoying public cell phone conversations that I am forced to hear. Gossip is a cottage industry in America. We have gossip magazines and television shows. Gossip columnists make careers out of spreading half-truths and rumors.

The recurring theme of these humble ramblings is not to rail on what the culture is doing but to examine what the followers of Christ should be doing. And the answer is clear and it should be articulated directly like the soup guy from the Seinfeld TV series. No! No gossip for you!

If the founding church fathers had added an 8th Deadly Sin I would nominate gossip. I have seen the devastating effect that gossip has in the church. You may have heard this too close to the truth joke.

Coming out of church, Mrs. Smith asked her husband, “Did you see that piercing that the Johnson’s daughter is parading around with?”
“I didn’t even see her,” admitted Mr. Smith.
“And that dress Mrs. Davis was wearing,” continued Mrs. Smith, “Really, don’t tell me you think that’s the proper outfit for a mother of two.”
“I’m afraid I didn’t notice that either,” said Mr. Smith.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” snapped Mrs. Smith. “A lot of good it does you to go to church.”

Gossip is a huge problem in the church and sometimes gossip is very stealthy. Satan has a slick marketing trick that he sells to Christians. We don’t call gossip by it’s name. We like to call gossip by euphemisms like “sharing our concerns” or “venting to a brother or sister”. We gossip when we divulge unnecessary details in prayer requests as if God needs to be brought up to speed on the entire situation. We like to think we are in the clear if we know that the information is true and we are simply being “honest” and “telling it like it is”. But Frank Clark correctly stated that “gossip needn't be false to be evil - there's a lot of truth that shouldn't be passed around.”

The Bible is very clear about gossip. I found fourteen specific mentions of gossip in Scripture. A couple of Old Testament highlights…

      “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.” Leviticus 19:16

      They visit me as if they were my friends,but all the while they gather gossip,and when they leave, they spread it everywhere. Psalm 41:6
     
      A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.  Proverbs 16:28

      Paul reveals how seriously he ranks gossip when he includes the act of gossip in this not so attractive menu of sins.

      Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.
      Romans 1:29