Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
No doubt there are worse sins than gossip. Murder or sexual abuse are boulders of sin, while gossip is just a pebble.
The problem is that gossip doesn’t just happen. It becomes a pattern, and the pebble is added to other pebbles until the pile bigger than a boulder. With that in mind, let’s talk about gossip.
Say you hear some news about someone. Maybe you didn’t ask about it, maybe you did. Either way the news comes to you. For this news to be gossip it can’t be good news. Only bad news will do, news that if widely known would cause embarrassment or difficulty to someone. In other words the news can cause harm.
Proverbs 11:13 says “A gossip betrays a confidence.” Betraying confidence is another way of saying that what you heard can cause harm. Please remember that you do not need facts. Truth does not matter. For the gossip to work you just need to assume it is true.
And now comes the crucial decision. What will you do? Pass it on or say nothing?
This decision is not easy. We like to think we do not gossip, but we do. It may harm a person, a family, even our community, but the thrill of telling somebody is too much. Something in us longs for that look of surprise, that hushed response, that intimate connection between two people which only comes from sharing gossip.
There is in each of us a great temptation to seek out bad news, and when we hear it an equal temptation to pass it on.
Therefore, I offer the following.
The next time you hear bad news about someone ask yourself whether it will cause harm if widely known. If the answer is “yes,” it is gossip. However, don’t think of it as a gossip. Instead think of it as a dangerous weapon. The question is not whether you pass it on but whether you will use it and injure someone. You can put it away and encourage others to do the same. That is keeping a confidence and treating people with care and respect. Or you can wield the weapon and inflict pain. The choice is yours.