Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts on what constitutes gossip…

The Oxford American Dictionary defines gossip as “casual talk, especially about other people’s affairs.” I think it’s interesting a secular dictionary would use the phrase “casual talk” to define a term that usually has hurtful and negative consequences. Casual suggests the gossip is done without forethought and that it is not a harmful activity in which to be engaged. However, when I checked the synonym suggestions on my computer for gossip one of the words listed was blather. Since I was unfamiliar with the term blather, I looked it up, too. It was defined as, “foolish talk.”

Gossip is usually thought out and done with intent to harm or to prove one’s beliefs about another person. Typically, gossip involves hearsay and goes through many people’s mouths and the person that is the subject of the gossip is ordinarily not given opportunity to confront his accusers. Often we justify this type of behavior because of our experiences with the person who is the subject of the gossip. We are on a mission to find the truth.

As I think about this act, I have to wonder if the scribes and the Pharisees felt justified in locating witnesses against Christ? They certainly did not like Jesus. He was an inconvenience and was interrupting their plans. So, they engaged in casual talk to build a case against him. Finally, when the evidence was presented to Jesus, He didn’t even bother to defend himself because he knew that these folks had already determined what they believed as the truth.

We quickly dismiss putting our actions and words into the same category as the scribes and Pharisees because Jesus was innocent. The person that we are engaged in tearing apart is horrible. We justify our actions because there is a greater good. We are on a mission to show this person’s true character. But, we never give the victim of the gossip opportunity to defend himself until we have already judged and tried him by rounding up our fellow gossips to substantiate the facts as we know them.

Gossip is dangerous. 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."

In Romans 1:29, Paul includes gossips with other evil works and in verse 32 he says that those who practice such acts deserve death.

All of us have probably engaged in gossip from time to time. That does not make the activity godly and we should never justify it. In fact, we should run from it.


Deborah said...


Thank you. You can get off my foot, now.

Love you!

Debbie B said...

Deborah, I think that my own feet got stepped on a little, too! LOL