“Can you keep a secret?”
Have you ever been asked that question? If you have and inquired what the secret was, it was probably no surprise that you were rewarded with some bit of juicy gossip about someone you know or some event you really don’t care to know about.
But wait! I thought gossip was only the problem of immature highschoolers looking to spread rumors around their school or elementary kids making fun of classmates on the playground? We’re supposed to grow out of the habit of wanting to talk about others behind their backs right? Sadly, that’s not the case. We all know that one person who’s always in the business of others and always has the latest detail to share whether they should share it or not. Maybe that person is you!
Proverbs 20:19 says, “whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.”
While Proverbs is chock full of great advice for everyday living, this one may be one of the best pieces of wisdom yet. The ESV translation refers to a gossip as a “babbler” and that’s an appropriate description considering what they do. To babble is to ramble on in an incomprehensible way and while a gossip’s speech is easy to understand, it brings no reward to the hearer or the person who’s being spoken about. As Christians, we shouldn’t use our speech to divide relationships or use our opinions as a means of final judgment. Instead, we should build others up in a way that would be a blessing if they were there to hear it.
” Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
It Can Be True and Still be Gossip
I want to end with a word about what some consider a good or necessary kind of gossip. All too often, we’re convinced that we need to talk about a situation because we’re sharing our concerns or that someone needs prayers. And while the information being passed on may be true and the gossip truly has the right motivation for sharing, it’s still slander if doing so would bring embarrassment or hurt to the person being spoken about. Why not be a real friend and show concern and care directly with the person involved instead of going behind their back to stir up more people to pray.
We must remember how God expects us to speak and act towards one another. It would be good to read the words of Jesus in Matthew to remind us how serious God takes our speech.
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”