Category Archives: gossip
The sermon for this post can be heard at this link
Last week we looked at a lesson based on the question of “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The actual answer Jesus gave was not as much what the young ruler needed to do as much as what he needed to give up.
In the sermon, I suggested that perhaps there would be something in our personality that we should give up. One of those personality traits that comes to mind is that of complaining. Even if you don’t think of it as personality, it certainly is a habit many of us have.
Recently, my wife and I read a book (actually, it was an audiobook) entitiled, “A complaint free world” by Will Bowen. The major premise of which is a challenge to go 21 days without complaining. As he says in his book, and I found out in my own life, complaining is an action that is never to far away from us.
This got me to thinking…Do I complain? Honestly, yes I do. I don’t think of myself as a complainer but complaints still are verbalized by me. Complaints fall into the category of expressing discontent with someone or something, criticizing someone, or gossiping about another person.
When we read the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, we see admirable things: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control…..Apparently, Complaining does not make the cut. That’s right, complaining is not a fruit of the Spirit.
There are many reasons why we complain. Sometimes because we forget the blessings of God. Israel sure did this. (Psalm 78:10-20). Other times, we complain because we do not want conflict. That is, we fear that the person we have a complaint against will get mad (or more mad) at us if we bring it up. We even complain to complete strangers just to start a relationship: “The weather is soooooooooooooo hot!”, we complain and viola! instant camaraderie.
There are many reasons why we complain but really, none of them are good reasons because they do not resolve the problem. Discussing the issue with the person who can resolve it is not complaining (as long as you don’t whine about it to them), it is taking steps to fix the issue. Telling the waiter that your dinner plate is the wrong one and asking them to fix it is not a complaint, assuming you use good manners and proper tone.
Can you go 21 days without complaining? It is a good question. I hope you will take the challenge with me. I think that the book by Will Bowen will be worth the read.
In this lesson, presented, Sunday January 18th a.m. we talk about the beatitude of Mercy.
Do you show Mercy? What are some reasons why we don’t show Mercy? How can we show Mercy?
The likelihood is that everyone believes that they show Mercy, sometimes called compassion. But a good question to ask might be: Can we do a better job of showing Mercy.
There are many reasons why people do not show Mercy. One reason is most likely this: They didn’t show me mercy. But that is hardly a good reason to return the (dis)favor. Considering how much we do against God’s character and Holiness and yet still want His mercy, perhaps we should not consider revenge to be a desirable characteristic.
There many ways to show mercy. One of those is how you speak about a person when they are not there. Gossip and character assassination are definitely not merciful characteristics. In a fight, at least, the person can start out defending themselves. When Gossip is involved, the chance to defend themselves never existed. Speak to build a person up not tear them down.
More is dealt with in the sermon. We hope you enjoy listening to it.
The company gossip keeps in passages that mention it are things like slander, idleness, malice, inappropriate conversations and things like that. One way you might notice gossip is if you see some of those characters hanging around.
If you were to use Strong’s concordance to find a definition of the word, you will find “whispering” and “secret detraction”. Whispering we understand: (Pssst! Listen to this but don’t tell anyone…” It is a secret simply because you don’t tell it in the open. Face it, who gossips about Joe when Joe is right there with them? Detraction is something that takes away from a person, perhaps their character or reputation may be attacked OR the person gossiping tries to make them smaller in order to try and increase their own status.
Some definitions that people gave me which I think are good are as follows:
- The speech intended to hurt, discredit, or simply set up in a bad light.
- Repeating what you heard or thought you heard, sometimes adding your own spin
- The propagation of rumor or slander, whether factual or fictional
David Watson, who preaches for the Benchley church of Christ provided this definition : The sharing of personal or negative information, either true or false, about someone else without righteous intent. (Note: This doesn’t mean that you want your intent to be righteous. It either is or is not)
Which brings me to the 4 things that I think will, if we keep them in mind, help us avoid gossip.
#1. What is the content of the information?
The content of the information, in order to not be gossip, must be absolutely true without spin or exaggeration. Just because something is true does not mean that it is NOT gossip, but statements which are false, misleading, or slanted for effect or sensationalism will quickly fall into gossip, rumors, or slander.
#2. What is the motive for telling the information?
Is it needed for the good of the person to whom you tell OR is it good for the person whose information you are sharing? Sharing information with people who do not need the information to protect themselves is a lot closer to gossip than we generally acknowledge. Sharing information that does not help the person you are talking about is almost always going to fall into the category of idle speaking and gossip.
When dealing with first graders, who are notorious for tattling, a question I often asked them was this: “Are you telling me this because you want them to be in trouble or because they are in danger?” To get a fellow student in trouble (e.g. they are not walking in line) is tattling but if they are in danger (e.g. He has a lighter and is burning his shoe lace) it is acceptable information sharing.
#3. Are you open about your part in the sharing of the information?
Have you ever told someone something you thought they should know, perhaps even so they could do something about it and then added “But don’t tell them where you heard it.”? If this is not “whispering” I do not know what is. Again, by itself, this is not a full proof example of gossip. However, I would hope we can tell the difference between someone needing to be in a witness protection program and a neighbor, friend or acquaintance who might be settling a grudge, simply stirring the pot of conflict, or who wants to avoid being embarrassed if the target of their information ever found out who was the source.
#4. Are you sharing this with someone who can actually solve the problem?
Sharing your dissatisfaction with your company’s vacation policy with the janitor is not going to solve the problem. It will only serve to discourage the janitor who may think he/she is working for a great company. If you have a problem with the vacation policy, talk to HR or the Boss but don’t discuss with others. Even if a majority agreed with you, you run more of a risk of sedition (a close cousin to gossip and slander) than actually solving the problem.
Ok, So I promised to share with you why Chloe’s report to Paul and his rebuke to the Corinthian church did not fall into Gossip. Based on the above 4 criteria: It was true, It was done for the benefit of those with a divisive mentality as well as those who were affected by it, there was transparency as to where the information came from and Paul was indeed able to solve the problem.
So often, when we discuss other people, their lives, or their circumstances, we might meet one of these four criteria but not meet all four. In the end, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you requires us to take extra precautions to avoid slipping into Gossip.
When we talk about the use of the tongue, it makes sense to talk about gossip. We all have a vague idea that gossip involves telling others about things that we ought not to share. We understand gossip to involve things like whispering, rumors, slander, but sometimes we are a little unsure about when we cross the line into Gossip.
Is it not Gossip simply because the information is true? Is it not gossip if you share information so that your audience know how to pray better?
Many passages talk about gossip and its “sister”, slander which give us some good clues. If the passage does not say “gossip”, it will use the word “slander”. Read the following passages:
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, (Rom 1:29-30)
For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish–that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 2Co 12:20)
Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1Ti 3:11)
Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. (1Ti 5:13)
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, (2Ti 3:2-3)
We can learn about Gossip from the company it keeps. These passages show that gossip associates with those who refuse to have God in their knowledge, it is accompanied by slander, malice, idleness, and inappropriate conversation. Who wants to associate with that? Birds of a feather, flock together and we should avoid this particular group of birds.
Of course, not every negative communication is gossip and that leads to some of the confusion. In the following passage, you clearly see negative information was communicated to someone else (Paul) when others were not present:
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. (1Co 1:10-11)
In the following posts, I will offer definitions of gossip, explain why the above passage is not an example of gossip, and mention some “not so hypothetical” situations of gossip. However, if you would like to hear a sermon about gossip, here is a link to one which you can listen to.
Question: What normal conversations have you heard that were actually gossip?