Okay, we’ve all seen them. The town gossip that enjoys nothing more than talking to everyone about all the scandalous activities of others. Who went out with who? Who’s cheating on who? Who gets drunk on the weekends? Who’s in trouble at work? And who’s having troubles in their marriage? Whether we are those that spew out the gossip, or those that enjoy listening to it, both are in extreme danger. Whether we are the proud owners of a wicked tongue or a wicked ear, we are one and the same.
James 3:5,6 says, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” May I say that this is a description of the damage caused by lies and gossiping?
One of the toughest obstacles we will ever face is the challenge of NOT gossiping. “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8). WHY is the human tongue a “restless evil”? WHY do people seem to enjoy so much, destroying others with their words? The human tongue can either be used to lift up and encourage others, or it can be used no different than a baseball bat to beat down and destroy others. The way we choose to use our tongues is a clear reflection of what lies inside our hearts, toward our brothers and sisters. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). Our tongues are driven by the spirit within us.
Before we understand “why” we gossip, let’s take a big step back and ask ourselves two questions, “What do I have to prove?”, and “Why must I look better than others?”
As one would suspect, a person who bullies another person is really an insecure person, struggling to make himself/herself feel better, at another’s expense. But have you considered that a gossiping person is no different than a bully? In both instances, this person is attempting to discredit, overpower, and/ or shame another person in order to make himself/herself feel better.
A gossip is a combination of insecurity and pride. Insecurity is involved, but while the gossiping person is feeling insecure about himself/herself, he/she needs to overcompensate by trying desperately to pull themselves up above the person they are gossiping about. The gossip is actually striving for an inflamed level of pride, to appear better than others, while secretly suffering inside.
Insecurity and pride are both sins. Insecurity is a sin because this person believes he/she has little value, even though God sent His Son to die in his/ her place. Therefore, this person puts little or no value on the life of Christ, thus mocking God and shaming the spilled blood of Jesus. Pride is a sin because, “… God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1Peter 5:5; Proverbs 3:34) Anything God opposes is sin.
Here’s what Jesus had to say about slander/gossip, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:19). It’s interesting how Jesus lumps slander/gossip into the same list of disgusting sins as murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft and lies. And we thought gossip was just a juicy, innocent pastime. Think again.