Timmy got a new Veggie Tales video this week from Grammy (thanks, mom!). It’s called “The Rumor Weed” and humorously depicts what happens to a small town when an untruth gets spread about one of its residents. Long story short: Huge damage! However, gossip isn’t just a silly issue for kid’s videos. It kills people.
Recently at the Christian bookstore we run, a woman came in looking for a book on disappointment. I showed her a few possibilities and as she was flipping through the pages, she started to pour out her heart. She had been a long-time church goer at a church the next town over. However a rumor started about her sexual orientation AMONG HER CHURCH FRIENDS. Since she lives in a small town, the damage done to her character and reputation has all but ruined her life. She lost 30 pounds (and she is a small person), her marriage almost ended, and her relationship with God and the church was almost completely destroyed. As I began to listen to this stranger gushing with pain and heartache, I was so angered that this woman’s life was torn asunder by her friends from church. The church, the body of Christ, is meant to build up, not tear down.
Being a female, I am keenly aware of the power of the tongue and I know how tempting it is to share a juicy morsel of information about someone with others. Gossip, is very addicting! There is something momentarily thrilling about sharing the news bite of the moment, whether true or possibly true. It especially infects a person who is idle. I Timothy 5:13 warns widows and young women (notice he is directly this warning to women): “They get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying thing they ought not to…”
God hates to see his children hurting each other. His command to us is to speak words that edify and encourage others. When I worked at a Christian camp in Missouri the director gave a talk on Ephesians 4:29. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those that listen.” I still remember his message and the scripture reference 10 years later because he challenged us to have clean mouths. If we heard anyone slandering or gossiping, we were to look at our watch and say “It’s 4:29” to remind them it was time to shut up! It’s time to use our tongues to bring life, not death!