“Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 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.” James 3:4-6
It amazes me how we humans seem to think it is of some great importance or need for us to discuss other people’s problems. I don’t know if we do it because of some need to feel important, or if it is just a careless lack of concern for the feelings of others, but we do like to talk about others. Perhaps in talking about someone else’s problem it takes the focus off of our own issues. I don’t’ know if there is one answer, and we could debate the reasons for hours, but I don’t think God cares about our justifying reasons.
The Bible gives us a great deal of warnings on the controlling of the tongue. Proverbs 20:19 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” Of course, when people are gossiping they take the liberty of interjecting their own opinions and insights into the equation, and before long the talked about circumstance bears no resemblance to the actual issue. In most cases, the person talking about it doesn’t even have first hand knowledge of the event either. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
I am not sure why this has struck a chord with me so much this week. It seems like Monday’s are always the worst day for the “water cooler” talk. Since this is Tuesday, following a three day Labor Day weekend, it is even worse because there is more to talk about. Proverbs 11:13 reads, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” I have been the subject of gossip before, and sadly at times I am sure I have done my part to repeat something I shouldn’t have. Sometimes what we say is true, but most of the time, because it’s been taken apart and added to, there is little truth left in our story. Either way I don’t believe it is anyone’s place to talk about the circumstances or the problems that someone is having in their life. It certainly isn’t what God expects from us or wants from us. Proverbs 26:20 reads, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”
I think gossiping among Christians disappoints God. When we choose to talk about someone’s issues, rather than helping them through it, then we are sinning plain and simple. When we choose to breach the trust that we were given, and repeat something that we were told in confidence, we have gone against God’s word. Psalm 34:13 reads, “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.”
Psalm 35:28 gives us some direction, “My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.” The next time that someone says “I heard”, and then begins to tell you something that you don’t need to know, just walk away. The next time you are told something in confidence….keep it there. If we are going to talk, then let us talk about the Grace that has been shown to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. Let us project Christ in our lives and give Him praises all day long.
1 John 3:18