The Gossiping Tongue
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:7-10)
John Calvin said, “I consider looseness with words no less a defect than looseness of the bowels.” I don’t think there is much else that needs to be said to sum up exactly what Calvin was saying. I think that he is absolutely correct. The tongue is a very important aspect of our body and it is most important when we use it for the Lord. Our tongue is the very thing we use to speak the words that come from our mouth. It is the very thing we use to praise the Lord. Yet, it is the very thing that we also use to backbite and gossip about one another. James strongly rebukes the believers to which he was writing telling them that these things ought not be so! How dare we use our tongues to praise God out loud in church and then turn around and use that very same tongue to talk about someone behind their back.
The focus of this post and pondering is on the matter of gossip. What is it and how do we know if we are doing it? The Bible gives strong warnings to both the one who gossips and to the one who allows himself to listen to gossip.
Let’s get a working definition of what gossip is. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines gossip this way, “a casual conversation or unsubstantiated reports about other people.” The key word in this definition is the word “casual.” The chief way to know whether or not you are gossiping is whether you are talking about a person or problem with the intent of working toward a solution to that problem. The other way you can know whether you are gossiping is whether the person you are talking to is the one that can provide or help provide a solution to the problem.
Scripture gives us numerous statements about this matter. Let me give you just a few of them (and by no means is this a totally exhaustive list):
Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily! (Ps. 140:11). David wrote that the slanderer ought not be allowed to be established in the land. Why?? It would destroy and infect everyone around that person.
An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue (Proverbs 17:4). This verse indicts the listener as well as the gossiper. When you listen to gossip, you agree with and take the side of the one spewing forth that gossip, regardless of what you might be thinking in your own mind.
Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. (Jeremiah 9:4) This verse helps to show us that slander or gossip was a characteristic of the spiritual darkness that Israel was in during the time of Jeremiah’s ministry. It is also a sign of great darkness within a church when it happens on a regular basis.
Finally, there is the bombshell! Paul puts gossip in the same category as homosexuality and numerous other sins! And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)
What should be our attitude as a church and as individuals. It ought to be to speak the truth in love. Paul writes, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16) You see, the issue is not that the truth cannot be spoken for it must be spoken. The issues are why we are saying something and to whom we are saying it! Unity will never come in our church unless we begin to practice this regularly.
In closing, make sure that if you have a problem with a person, to include this pastor or anyone in spiritual leadership, don’t gossip, complain, or slander that person. Remember, you are to obey them for they watch for your souls and will also give an account. (Hebrews 13:17) All of us as pastors have the challenge of doing that very sobering task of watching over souls as imperfect men ourselves. As much as we would like to be perfect, we are not and we make mistakes. Every pastor needs to remember this and be humble enough to admit when they have made mistakes and then do whatever they can to correct them.
And guess what, Christians are fallible people too! People hurt people and everyone make mistakes. How would any of us know that we made a mistake unless someone took the time to speak the truth in love and point that mistake out? All of us as believers need to be humble enough to admit when they have made mistakes and then do whatever they can to correct them.
Listen, let’s be unified, godly believers rather than disjointed, gossiping ones! The difference between the two is spiritual freedom and joy or spiritual darkness and depression. Which will you have??
Posted on June 3, 2012, in Scripture, Uncategorized and tagged Bible, Christianity, church, concise oxford english dictionary, gossip, James, looseness of the bowels, proverbs, religion, theology, Tongue, unity. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.