Gossip is a Cancer; Love is the Cure.
“Did you hear what so and so did?”
How often we talk about our brothers and sisters!
More often than not, we don’t even know the truth of matter, yet we repeat the story. It is so sad. I have heard stories about many of my brothers and sisters that paint them in a bad light. It is disgusting, and frankly, I am ashamed to be a part of the church when I hear it. And that hurts to say. Oh how our Lord’s heart must ache when he sees his children backstabbing each other, flinging mud, and putting each other down. It is truly an insanity that in the church, the body of Christ, we continually hurt each other in this way.
The Bible is very clear that those who persistently and unrepentantly partake in these sins – any sins actually – are not of the body. It is impossible for Christians to live in ongoing, unrepentant sin. But then again, the Bible does say that there will be hypocrites among the believers in the Church…so perhaps it is not so surprising that it happens as often as it does.
Let me put this bluntly.
If we persistently and unrepentantly do these things, even though we appear to be a part of the body, we are not. In fact, the unrepentant gossiper is like a malignant tumour, feeding off the life giving blood of the body, only to cause harm to that which sustains it. Like a cancerous growth, they must be cut off for the sake of the body. As Paul says about the reviler,
” I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”
Those are harsh words. But the point is that we must cut out sin from the body. Now, not all of us who gossip are cancerous tumours. Some of us are a part of the body who carelessly and sinfully get caught up in the moment. Gossip is an easy sin to commit, and if we are honest, we have all done it. But that does not make it any less sinful or offensive.
And when we hear it, so often we just smile, even if we don’t like the gossip. We should confront it and stop it. In Proverbs 17 we learn that,
“An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.”
To even entertain the gossiper by listening to it, is in itself an evil.
So we must stand guard.
James tells us,
” the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!”
It does not take much to set a congregation on fire, once the match is dropped…
Imagine if we all prayed for each other instead of talking about each other when we heard these things. My friend J.S. Park wrote in this article about stopping a gossiper in his tracks,
“The sneakiest thing you can do, especially if the gossiper says, “We should pray for them,” is to actually pray for them. On the spot. Or in the very next meeting. Go in a circle, and ask the gossiper to finish it off.”
I would say that is not so much sneaky as it is biblical! When we hear gossip, we should stop and pray! It is wisdom to seek the Lord.
D.A. Carson said,
“All of us would be wiser if we would resolve never to put people down, except on our prayer lists.”
This quote reminds me of a friend who once told me that she and her husband would take their church directory and pray for 4 or 5 people every night before bed. They would start at the “A’s” and work their way through it 4 or 5 people at a time, each evening. They would bring them before the Lord. All the gossip, all the pain, all their needs, and if they had any personal issues with them, they would pray about that as well.
This is beautiful.
This is love.
Love is what the church ought to be doing.
It is a difficult thing to gossip about someone, if you are earnestly praying for them in love.
Love is the cure for the cancer of gossip.
In a sermon on the 9th Commandment, Rev. Wes Bredenhof gives us some practical advice when it comes to practising love in the face of gossip:
Love also needs to compel us when we consider the always-present challenge of gossip – destructive communication about others. Again, whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. If it’s hurtful talk, it’s gossip. The Word clearly instructs us to put it off – it doesn’t fit with a Christian life, it doesn’t belong in the life of someone who is united to Christ. It’s not a fruit of faith, not a part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. So, what are some practical things that we can do to put gossip to death in our lives? Let me make a few suggestions.
First, we can cut gossips off. When someone is going to tell you a juicy tidbit –“Did you hear what happened with so-and-so…?” – just say, “You know what? I don’t want to hear about that. I’m just not interested.”
Second, there are those who want us to gossip. They pry and probe, perhaps baiting you with leading questions. Refuse to engage them on it. Change the subject, walk away, do whatever you have to do, but don’t take the bait, don’t bite.
Third, as much as it’s in your power refuse to read or watch gossip about others. Many of us go through grocery checkout aisles every week and you can see plenty of gossip there. Don’t buy those magazines, don’t pay attention to them. Don’t watch the gossip shows.
Finally, you can put off gossip by setting a good example for others. Here think especially of your children. So, for instance, if our children hear us on the telephone engaged in destructive communication about others, how are we to expect them to act and behave?
So let’s resolve to cut out the cancerous tumour of gossip with the Surgeon’s knife of Love.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.