by Dr. D. Wayne Beeks
Those of us that work in the law enforcement, and public safety in general, are aware, sometimes painfully aware, that our profession is filled with gossips. To this I will add that our profession is not completely unique to other professions in that aspect. Having worked in public safety, and in the corporate world, I can say that gossips are not endangered or specific to any occupation. I don’t believe or wish to imply that all gossips in our daily lives are evil at heart, but instead are ignorant to both the harm of such practice, and to God’s position on such. There are few things, completely under one’s control, that can completely undermine and destroy a shared trust among friends, co-workers, a church congregation, and even family members.
A quote from John Piper, an author and American Calvinist Baptist minister, provides a good definition for the term gossip:
“The New Testament warns against gossiping. The Greek word translated “gossip” means whisper or whisperer. In other words, the focus is not on the falsehood of the word but on the fact that it needs to be surreptitious. It is not open and candid and forthright. It has darkness about it. It does not operate in the light of love. It is not aiming at healing. It strokes the ego’s desire to be seen as right without playing by the rules of love.” John Piper
Because of God’s disdain for gossip, and its related word, slander, scripture addresses the matter of gossip frequently in the Bible. God is clear on His dislike of those that partake of gossip:
“(16) You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:16, ESV).
If we look at the effects of gossip on a strictly personal level, can you trust someone, or worse, a close friend or confidant, that you know to gossip about another behind their back, to not gossip behind yours? Should you expect to be trusted and held in confidence among your close friends if you gossip about others? Gossip is destructive and divisive, used by some to build their own image at the expense of another.
“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28 ESV).
Clearly gossip is a sinful act, sometimes done simply out of ignorance, but in some cases in malice of heart. Consider the actions of speaking of others not in your presence as to the purpose of why you need to share the information, is it true, does that other person need to know this information, and would you speak the same if that person where present? Don’t participate in the gossip of others; confront them, walk away, or change the subject. A quote from Leonard Ravenhill, an author and English Christian evangelist who focused on the subjects such as prayer, highlights how prayer is a deterrent to gossip as prayer is a deterrent to all sinful practices in our lives.
“Notice, we never pray for folks we gossip about, and we never gossip about the folk for whom we pray! For prayer is a great deterrent.” Leonard Ravenhill
Thank you Lord for all the blessings in our lives and the blessings we continue to receive. Lord we know gossip, both destructive and divisive, is a sin you detest. We seek to only speak of others as we would if they were in our presence, and not participate in the gossip of those around us. May you guide those that are ignorant in these actions, so they may see their harmful effects.
In Jesus’s name we pray,