Can you keep a secret? The longer I live, the more I realize the scarcity of persons who can be trusted with confidential information. Whether in government (an unnamed White House source) or the church, people love to talk.
R.G. Lee said, “A lie travels around the world while truth is putting on its boots.” We are more willing to spread a rumor than spread the gospel.
The story is told of a man who saw an old acquaintance. He said, “I heard you were dead.” The other replied, “You’ve got the wrong information, as you can see, I’m very much alive.” The man said, “I don’t know, I heard it from a reliable source.”
Let’s be honest, gossiping is fun until you are the subject. We have an insatiable appetite for gossip. National Enquirer has the largest circulation of any paper in America.
The New Testament identifies three types of gossips. The first is the busybody. 2 Thessalonians 3:11, “…doing no work at all, but acting as busybodies.” These persons delight in gathering and spreading information. Facts are irrelevant.
Second, you have the whisperer, the person who says, “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but…” In Romans we read, “being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God.” Funny, Paul says if you gossip or slander you hate God.
Thirdly, the slanderer; this person damages another’s reputation. The Greek word for slander is “diabolos.” It’s the same word for Satan or the devil. (see 1 Timothy 3:11 and Titus 2:3).
When we became believers we gave up the “big” sins like stealing, drinking, cheating, drugs and fornication. Unfortunately, we picked up what we call “little” sins like gossip. In Proverbs 8 God says, “…the perverted mouth I hate.” In Leviticus 19:16 we read, “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people.”
Let’s get God-honest. Our tongues do more running than our feet. We love to talk. We want to know what’s going on. I’ve never heard positive gossip. Gossip is cheap, cowardly, ungodly entertainment.
I heard it through the grapevine was a popular song in the 60s. I suggest it’s time the church prune that vine. We are one of the few fortunate churches where such talk is rare. When it raises its head, for any reason, it’s a signal of Satanic activity.
I have discovered a 100% sure fire method to eliminate gossip. All you have to do is ask the question, “Can I quote you on this?” Or, you can ask, “Who told you this?” You are wasting your time when you listen to “I heard” and “They said.” The epistle of James tells us that one of the major signs of spirituality is the ability to control your tongue. If you can’t, you aren’t spiritual!
Would you pass a tongue test? Okay, open your mouth and say, “Ahh.” Your tongue is evidence of the condition of your heart. It is the exit door of the heart. A disciplined tongue is evidence of spiritual maturity. Suppression is not the same as transformation. You heard about the lady who came to lay her tongue on the altar? The pastor said the altar wasn’t big enough!
Our tongues are to be vehicles of grace. Our lips are to speak righteousness. Our conversations are to be seasoned with salt and full of grace. Of all people, George Harrison, the former Beatle, has written a song entitled, “Devil’s Radio.” The words are, “I heard it in the night, Words the thoughtless speak, Like vultures in the night, On the Devil’s Radio. I heard it through the day, Airwaves getting filled, With gossip forecast to-and-fro on the Devil’s Radio.”
In Matthew 12:36 our Lord said, “every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgement.” Every time we open our mouths, pick up the phone, or even listen to gossip, we are making a choice. In that choice we bless God or grieve Him.
A trip through Proverbs might lead to personal and corporate revival. Royal families make their personal servants sign oaths never to reveal what goes on in private quarters. If we, as Christians, are members of a royal priesthood, shouldn’t we apply even higher standards to the way we speak?
PROFOUND THOUGHT… “Be sure that your lips in public are compatible with your lips in private prayer to God.” – Don Miller
©2002 MCC Used by permission. This article is copyrighted by the author and is for your individual use. Reproduction for any other purpose is governed by copyright laws and is strictly prohibited. Michael C. Catt, I Left My Mind in Mississippi…But I Still Have My Ministry (Columbus, Ga.: Brentwood Press, 1994), p. 76-78.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.