A Look at the Heart #5 – How Reliable Are Reliable Sources?

02 May

The bold print on the cover of a popular women’s magazine states: “Gossip is fun.” Apparently, it is also a great way for some people and a few magazines to make a lot of money.

The National Enquirer claims the largest circulation of any paper in America. There seems to be an insatiable national appetite for gossip.

The fact is that people love to read and talk about, more than anything else — people.

Who is the gossip?
The word was originally used to refer to those in close personal relationships: a dear friend or godparent (thus “go-sib”) but it has come to represent the very abuse or pretense of closeness – the idle talk of a person concerned with the private affairs of others.

1. The Busybody.
This is the person who has the motto “the public has a right to know.” Paul blames idleness for their behavior in 2 Thessalonians 3:9-12: “We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. {10} For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” {11} We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. {12} Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.”

2. The Whisperer.
This is the person who breaks confidences entrusted to them or reveals secrets he has learned about others. Someone else’s privacy and trust go right out the window whe he whispers “I probably shouldn’t tell you this,

Proverbs 11:13: “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”

Prov. 20:19: “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.”

3. The Slanderer.
This is the most dangerous of all because he damages other’s reputations by speaking malicious or evil things about them. The terms “back-stabbing” and “character assassination” fit them well, because their intentions are murderous.

“Slander slays three persons: the speaker, the spoken to, and the spoken of.”

“To murder character is as truly a crime as to murder the body; the tongue of the slanderer is brother to the dagger of the assassin.”  — Tryon Edwards

“Character assassination is at once easier and surer than physical assault; and it involves far less risk for the assassin. It leaves him free to commit the same deed over and over again, and may, indeed, win him the honors of a hero even in the country of his victims.” —Alan Barth

There is a Greek word that speaks loudly here! It’s the word diabolos and is used to refer to Satan or the Devil….but when it it applied to a human being, it is translated slanderer.

1 Timothy 3:11: “In the same way, their wives (deacons’ wives) are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.”

Titus 2:3: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.”

2 Cor. 12:20: “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”

Will Rogers said: “The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.”

700 years before Christ, the Greek poet Hesiod said: “Gossip is malicious, light and easy to raise, but…hard to get rid of. No gossip ever dies away entirely, if many people voice it … gossip is virtually impossible to exercise strict controls over…admonitions like ‘don’t tell a soul’ make for pretty cheap and ineffective insurance against its

Ever played the game gossip? You have a group of people sitting in a circle and someone starts a simple message around the circle….after a dozen or so passes, it’s amazing how badly the original message has been altered.

The real shame? The person who is the object of gossip is at a tremendous disadvantage because he usually can’t defend himself!

William Barclay (for this reason) suggests that the whisperer is worse than the gossip: “A man can at least defend himself against an open slander, but he is helpless against the secret whisperer who delights in destroying reputations.”

A great point
Gossip has the potential to damage or destroy two of our most precious personal possessions: our relationships and our reputation.

Dr. Alan Loy McGinnis, in his book The Friendship Factor says “one of the signs of deepening friendships is that people trust you with secrets.”

But it is also true that “whoever gossips to you will gossip of you.”

Think of the importance of our reputation:
Proverbs 22:1: “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

1 Timothy 3:7: “He {the elder} must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

Gossip is cheap, cowardly entertainment and reveals a love of darkness!
John 3:19: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

Proverbs 18:8: “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”

He who is in the mud likes to pull another into it. — Spanish proverb

Gossip also speaks to a person’s sin of pride.
3 John 1:9-10: “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. {10} So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.”

John Powell: “It is much easier to tear down others than lift one’s self up by achievement. Superiority and inferiority being relative terms, lowering others seems to raise one’s own status.”

It can also speak of guilt. It can be an attempt to ease a person’s feelings of guilt and sinfulness. If we can look at others, it can help us ‘look better.’

Jesus didn’t see it that way.
Matthew 5:21-22: “”You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ {22} But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Paul warned against the Comparative Righteousness Game:
Galatians 6:4: “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else…”

Apply the love test.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8: (Have I been)
· patient
· kind           
· does not envy
· does not boast, it is not proud
· not rude
· not self-seeking
· not easily angered
· keeps no record of wrongs
· does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
· always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Pruning The ‘Grapevine’ of Gossip
1. Honor the individual. Consider the rights and needs of the person being discussed. Does this conversation need to be with them rather than about them? Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

2. Identify the source. Be wary of any personal information which is not firsthand. Ask: “who told you this?”

3. Guard the confidential.
If you suspect that you are hearing secret or privileged information, ask “should this be kept confidential?” “May I quote you on that?”

  1. Resist the temptation to pry.
    Don’t go fishing for more information rather than less. Seek out only information that will help you bear that person’s burdens or gently restore them to spiritual health and fellowship.

Galatians 6:1-2: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. {2} Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

5. Encourage an intolerance of gossip. We need to be ‘fire stoppers!”
Proverbs 26:20: “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

6. Find somebody to serve! Idleness is the fertile seedbed for gossip! And spending time in prayer for that person will HALT the talk because it is highly unlikely that we will “talk in public about a person we’re praying about privately.”


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Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Encouragement


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