Is It Gossip, or Sharing in Love?
- 2006 27 Apr
“You know I don’t repeat gossip,” my friend leaned over the snack bar table and said with a wink. “So you’d better get it right the first time.”
I hunched over to hear the latest piece of “skating rink news” and quickly got an ear full, which I promised not to “repeat.”
We were skating moms, bound each day by the long hours of rigorous practice necessary for our daughters in order to become the national champions they eventually became. We were both bored and stirred by the Peyton Place atmosphere of the facility and its club members.
We were also Christians.
Sharing in Love & Other 'Informative' Methods
Have you ever heard the following: “I need to tell you something. I’m not gossiping; I’m sharing in love.”
Several years ago, while sitting in an airport I received a phone call from one of my best friends, author and speaker Linda Evans Shepherd. She had just read a book—a novel—about a group of friends. “Problem is, Eva,” she said from her car as it wove through the Colorado Rockies, “I don’t know any group of women like this. If I were going to write a book about friends—Christian friends—I’d call it The Potluck Club and I’d write about the kinds of women I know…the kind that bring potluck to prayer meetings and then spend all their time eating and…well….”
Mmmhmm. My mind raced back to some of the prayer meetings and potluck suppers I’d attended over the years. The sagas and the dramas! Women talking and tsk-tsk-ing while dining on homemade fried chicken and delectable potato salad. My, my, my. Gossip, gossip, gossip….
I laughed as I thought about that thing I call the “informative prayer.” You’ve probably heard a few yourself. It goes like this: Dear Lord, we come here tonight to pray for Jack. You know, Father, the church scoundrel. He has cheated on his wife nearly their whole marriage. He’s been drinking too much and has been seen gambling in nearby towns. Lord, we ask that you restore his marriage because his wife has now asked him for a divorce. Be with their children and keep the gossip at bay.”
When you hear these prayers, peek an eye open. You’ll notice a few mouths gaping, a few pray-ers jotting notes in their prayer journal, and maybe even one or two hurrying out of the building with cell phones in their hands.
What Draws Us to Gossip?
Well, guess what: the book, The Potluck Club, was co-written by Linda and me. What amazed me the most was the amount of women who exclaimed, “I know so many women like this!”
Do you now?
What do you think draws us to gossip? What is so important about knowing everyone else’s secrets? Does it make us feel superior to speak ill of another? Does it make us feel better about our lot in life? Is it that we just don’t like someone, so we set out to hurt them? Or do we sometimes just get caught up in the emotional thrill of hearing idle chit chat (as long as it isn’t about us)?
TV shows, magazines, and newspapers that reveal all the news—both good and bad—about those we tend to idolize from Hollywood and New York have made a vast fortune off of the natural desire to hear gossip. Reporters could care less if they are telling the truth, expanding the truth, or hurting others with their tales. Their job is to get as much of the truth as they can and then work around it.
But why would we—even us Christians—be drawn to hear it? Or repeat it? Or share it in love? Especially when it is about those we say we love, and not some star we’ll most likely never meet.
What the Bible Says
Oh, the power of the tongue! James 3: 3-8 reads:
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
I could literally fill pages and pages with text from the Bible concerning this subject. Though the Bible never uses the word “gossip” verbatim, it most assuredly talks about “tale bearing” and the results of speaking against others.
But, for me, the bottom line is this: do you remember when Jesus said to the Pharisees that a “house divided against itself would fall?” The same goes when one part of the body of Christ begins to talk against another part of the body of Christ.
Gossip is very much like cancer to the body…the Body of Christ. It is also an abomination to God. (The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. ~~Proverbs 12:22) Gossiping is lying and lying is mentioned in the Top Ten List of commandments given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.
What to Do if You…
Several years ago I received a call from a friend who asked if she could come over and talk to me. This was a good friend, one I had shared many deep secrets with. Her voice told me that she needed me, so—in spite of the late hour—I told her to come on over. When she arrived, her eyes were swollen from crying. In fact, she looked as though she’d been crying for a week! When I asked her what was wrong, she blurted out that she’d told a mutual friend some of my secrets. I was surprised, yes, but more-so I was moved by her heart. I forgave her and we had a good cry together. Funny thing is, had she not told me I probably would have never found out. But she would have known!
If you are a gossiper, you will first want to come clean before the Lord. Confess to Him your weaknesses and ask Him to help you start new this very day. Don’t ask that you be kept from gossiping for the rest of your life, but just for today, or for this hour, if need be.
Because you have surely hurt others along the way, you will want to then come clean before them. Perhaps your words have hurt your congregation or group of friends. Repent before them as a whole, if you can. You’ll be surprised at how forgiving others can be when they are faced with true repentance. You should also go to those you have hurt individually and ask for forgiveness.
If gossip has seemingly taken over your world, you may require Christian counseling. I would also suggest meditating on the scriptures dealing with the tongue, the words of our mouth, love in its purest form, the fruit of the Spirit, etc.
If you have been hurt by someone’s words, then you are in the position I was years ago with my friend. Jesus said we are to forgive others as our Father in Heaven has forgiven us. No matter what has been said about you by others, it is not nearly as bad as what they said about Him. He forgave from the cross (Father, forgive them…).
Be imitators of God, Paul said (Ephesians 5:1). I can’t imagine Jesus “sharing in love,” but I can clearly see him forgiving.
Eva Marie Everson wrote The Potluck Club with her friend Linda Evans Shepherd. For more information, go to www.EvaMarieEverson.com and click on the Books tab.