Gossip is the quiet kid at the sin table. He makes sure whatever he does is unassuming, deliberate, and phrased in almost admirable terms. He’s the white-collar criminal of sins, if you will. He will quietly rob you of human dignity and smile during the transaction. He’s also considered a respectable member of society, a top-notch fellow who does the dirty work so others can enjoy the results. And he’s the one most people, especially Christians, tend to secretly enjoy keeping company with.
Where does he show up? Well, he can show up during prayer times – “So and so, you know ‘the drunk,’ needs some prayer right now since he got arrested last night,” or “Pray for miss what’s her face since she’s pregnant and not married to that boyfriend of hers.” He shows up on Facebook posts: “Look at what this pastor did!” “Can you believe what this celebrity just said?” “Aren’t those Christians over there heretics, or what?”
Look, we all have a penchant for curiosity, especially of the morbid type, but we need to be honest with ourselves. Are we really posting things because they are bits of information others need to hear, or are we just eager for someone else to smirk smugly alongside us as we deride and chastise others?
For Christians, this is especially important. Let me be clear. In the middle ages, it may have been necessary to publish polemic (attacking) articles in order to defend orthodox (commonly agreed upon truth) beliefs, in today’s communication-rich world, it’s not as necessary. Whoever needs correcting is a phone call, direct message, or email away. (If an idea is being criticized, it’s one thing. However, most of the shared articles are attacking a person, not an idea.) Chances are whoever is being admonished will never see the article you shared about their alleged heresy or weird spiritual practice, which makes that article nothing more than gossip. Why? Because it’s unhelpful (person in question may never see it), it’s divisive (probably not meant for the person in question, but rather itching ears waiting to pounce), and it’s hurtful. (And “being unable to reach the person” is no excuse. If the author truly acted in love, they would persist like the widow to the judge – not sink to the low standards of some modern speculative journalism.)
So before you share that article, ask a few questions:
Is this about an idea or a person?
If it’s about a person, is it an attack or a dialogue?
Is the article helpful for building up faith, or is it tearing down someone else’s?
Am I sharing this out of sincere love for my fellow Christians?
Gossip is often listed alongside things such as adultery, lying, and murder. And, yet, we often tend to overlook it. God doesn’t. God expects unity among his people. Gossip divides.
Do you discuss people or ideas at home? When you talk about others is it in context of prayer or genuine concern? When you think about your conversations or Facebook posts, do you sense gossip in them? What example are your kids seeing in regards to gossip in your home?