|Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
It seems like all of sudden lots of people are talking about the problem of gossip. (This may be just because my ears always perk up when someone mentions the word!)
In the last month, several posts crossed my RSS feed about resisting gossip that were worth reading:
1. Ron Edmonson wrote: Stopping Gossip in 7 Ways (Repost).
After giving his helpful list, he says, "If my tone seems intent it’s because I am. I have little patience for gossips. My desire is to see people who live in holy and healthy community together. Gossip is a betrayer of this becoming reality."
Ron has invited me to share more about Resisting Gossip on his blog later this year.
2. John Zens wrote The Most Ignored Sin at Frank Viola's blog.
He writes, "As long as I’ve been a Christian I have watched friends and their families undergo untold pain and hurt because of the incredible power of gossip and slander. Years ago we were traveling and after speaking in a church a brother came up to me and said, 'I heard that you had quit teaching in churches and took up potato farming.' How and why such a rumor got started is anybody’s guess! This rumor was fairly innocuous, but imagine the untold harm done by vicious judgments on the life and character of others."
I might differ with Zens about some his points (or at least want to make some qualifications and nuances), but I think his zeal for truly upbuilding speech is very commendable!
Zens includes this powerful quote from A.W. Tozer (which I had never seen before in all my research on gossip):
Never pass anything on about anybody else that will hurt him. “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). The talebearer has no place in God’s favor. If you know something that would hinder or hurt the reputation of one of God’s children, bury it forever. Find a little garden out back — a little spot somewhere — and when somebody comes around with an evil story, take it out and bury it and say, “Here lies in peace the story about my brother.” God will take care of it. “With what judgment you judge, you shall be judged.”
If you want God to be good to you, you are going to have to be good to His children. You say, “But that’s not grace.” Well, grace gets you into the kingdom of God. That is unmerited favor. But after you are seated at the Father’s table, He expects to teach you table manners. And He won’t let you eat unless you obey the etiquette of the table. And what is that? The etiquette of the table is that you don’t tell stories about the brother who is sitting at the table with you — no matter what his denomination, or nationality, or background (from Five Vows for Spiritual Power).
3. Zens' article got Lisa Robinson thinking about Avoiding Theological Gossip at Parchment and Pen.
Theological gossip involves the airing of someone’s statements on a theological position through second or third hand information that may be partially true or even untrue, puts them in a negative light that involves assassinating their character.
It is the equivalent of going to others and saying about that author, pastor or theologian, “Hey, have you heard what so and so said or what so and so believes? I can’t believe they call themselves a Christian and take such an ungodly position!” AND without having all the facts; hearsay from others who have whispered in our ears, so to speak. I hate to say this but social media and the blogosphere can become an easy conduit for theological gossip, especially around new books. (No, I will not mention any names!)
I think that it is a good thing that Christians are talking about combating gossip. Gossip is the enemy of the gospel. It is always bad news when we have good news to share!