There are some things the Bible is so explicit and clear on it amazes me when someone misunderstands them. We can argue about the antichrist and the events of the end, we can argue over certain other issues that the Bible can seem a little unclear on, but on some things, the Bible could not be any more specific and clear. For example, James 1.26:
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (NIV)
If you misuse your tongue, every other religious practise you do is worthless. All your praying giving, Bible reading, helping old ladies across the road is worth nothing if you are misusing your tongue. James goes on to inform us that the tongue is the bit that moves the whole horse, the rudder that moves the whole ship, the spark that starts the entire fire, and the poison that destroys your whole life. The tongue is tiny but can cause more pain than you could even imagine. You see once the forest burned, it will take decades to put the forest back again.
I have seen whole churches burned to ashes because of one spark from one tongue, and I will not let that happen to the Trees of Life that are sprouting up around the UK.
One of the sparks that seems to fly out of the mouth of Christians that can cause great destruction is gossip. Gossip is actually forbidden by the law of Moses – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people” (Lev. 19.16). Yet so many Christians do just that, they go around spreading slander, they tell stories about other people, lazy, idle, exaggerated, malicious, nasty stories. It call comes under the banner of gossip.
Something many people do not know is that the word “devil” in the Greek, diabolos, means a gossip and slanderer. The devil is a gossip, and gossip is the work of the devil. If you are a gossip, telling tales about how other people treated you and what they did, and how they are – and I say this wth all the love I have in my heart because I want you to win in life – you are doing satan’s work for him. You are an agent of satan in this earth. You have to be very careful not to be a gossip. It’s that important – you do not want to be an agent of satan. You want to be an agent of Jesus!
The flip side of this is that we must not just be careful not to be the giver of gossip, but we must be very careful not to be gossip receivers. The Bible – God’s Word – says “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels, they do down to a man’s inmost part” (Proverbs 18.8). This is sadly what people are like – they love to hear something bad about someone else, they love to see other people shown up in a bad light. There’s something about our flesh that rejoices in iniquity, but love never rejoices in iniquity.
So the gossip comes with words about someone else, instead of saying “Do not gossip about someone in my presence, be quiet”, we swallow the morsel – we eat it up and it goes right to our heart. If we are not careful, we will gulp down gossip and it will ruin your heart and mess up your faith. Gossips do not walk in theirs dreams because their hearts are clogged with all those morsels they ate! They are poisoned – they taste sweet but they give you heart failure. Do not eat them.
When someone comes to me and says “Did you know what this person did to me”, “Have you heard this about such-and-such”, even if it is wrapped up in religious language – “I am so concerned about such-and-such, and I love them so much in the Lord I need to tell you that…”, “Can we all pray for Such-and-such because I heard they have done this or that”. It’s all gossip. It’s all going to stop you dreaming big. Then you tell someone else and they tell someone else. And everyone’s hearts shrink and your gang think that’s the normal size of a heart!
We are told that “a gossip betrays a confidence, so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverbs 20.19). Gossip is linked to excessive talking! It’s one of the ways in which you spot it. But it is a form of disloyalty. You find out something because someone thinks you are being loyal so they share a secret with you and you then share it – that is betrayal, that is disloyalty, that is dishonour.
Gossip is a sin. But if you listen to it, you become an accessory after the fact. You know the crime is committed, you heard the gossip, you know it was a crime, but you never told the person to stop, you never told them to go and speak to the person not about the person. You did not do that, so you joined them in their crime! You are as guilty as they are. You are turning the spark into a forest fire, not putting it out. You are taking the stolen goods of gossip and are now a handler of stolen words!
I want to dwell in the tent of the Lord, and according to Psalm 15, I can live in His tent if I do not slander with my tongue. We must not gossip. But Psalmist then says to live in His tent, we must not “receive a reproach against our friend”. How often have I thought someone was a friend until they ate the morsels of gossip about me? They call me up.
I got one call once from someone who said: “Hey, such and such called me and told me how you upset them, and they were on the phone for over an hour”. I replied “they called me last week to tell me how much you upset them, but the call only lasted two minutes because I won’t feed on that and I told them to speak to you”. I won’t eat the morsels, because i will not treat my friends like that.
We must not eat the gossip, it will poison us and cost us friends. How many friendships are destroyed by third-parties because someone did not have the courage to say “Do not say that about my friend. You can say it to his face, but do not say it behind his back to me, that is not Jesus, that is satan”. But rather people receive the gossip, feeling precious for knowing the secrets! That doesn’t just destroy the friendship, but you have failed to care for the gossip and help them see their action is wrong.
As a young Christian I gossiped about my pastor once to an elder in the church. She put me in my place and made sure I never did it again. That moment defined me as a young Christian and forced me to learn and grow. If she had listened to me, not only would it have hurt her, hurt her friendship with the pastor, it would have hurt me as I needed someone to refuse to eat my poisoned morsels and correct me.
It’s a sin that has plagued the church too long. Do not be a gossip! Do not receive stolen gossip and be a handler of gossipped words. Do not burn down something precious and wonderful.