There are some sins that I would not be able to commit right this moment. Some sins involve a process of decisions or actions. Sins like murder, stealing, cheating, disobedience, violence, and sexual sin require a little bit of runway before they take-off.
But there is one type of sin that I could easily rocket launch into right this very moment.
There is a particular sin that I’m apt to fall into anytime, anywhere. It is possibly the most common way we act contrary the way God created us to act. This is one of the easiest ways to sin and it has the least obvious consequences.
I’m talking about gossip.
"Did you hear what she did? Why does he always do that? She’s gotten into some bad stuff. He's so annoying. She's so stupid. He always does that! What is wrong with her?"
Simply put, gossip is talking carelessly about someone else's business. Think about that definition. We all gossip. All the time.
Why is gossip even a sin? What kinds of problems does gossip cause? Your tongue is small and hidden, yet careless talk about someone else’s business can affect the entire course of your life. Consider these four often overlooked consequences of gossip:
1. Gossip Impacts Character
Proverbs 11:13 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” When you gossip, you communicate to others that you are someone who cannot be trusted. If you would talk carelessly about someone else’s business what guarantee do I have that you won’t talk carelessly about me? Listening to juicy gossip may be enjoyable, but hearing it never increases my respect for and trust in the one sharing the gossip.
2. Gossip Impacts Friendships
Proverbs 16:28 says, “…a gossip separates close friends.” We all have people we used to be friends with. Think back through elementary, junior high, and high school. How many former “best friends” do you have? If you stop and think about what happened to your former friendships, odds are you’ll see a trail gossip that led to hurt and broken trust.
3. Gossip Impacts Loneliness
Proverbs 20:19 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” Ever wonder why you feel lonely, why it sometimes feels like people are avoiding you? People keep gossipers at arm’s length. Eventually, people learn to avoid careless talkers. Many of your relationships may be shallow because you haven’t been careful with your words. You may be missing out on rich, deep, consistent friendships because of a tendency to utter too many careless words.
4. Gossip Impacts Peace
Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” If we’re honest, some of us like drama. We are strangely warmed by the fires of conflict, so we use our words to “add wood” and keep the drama alive. While it’s easy to be entertained by conflicts, Christians should consider our calling as peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” We should ask ourselves if the words we speak are peacemaking or peace-breaking.
How to Avoid Gossip
While your tongue is small and hidden, it’s important to live on high alert that it’s always poised to lead you into sin. Walk into today knowing that gossip is the easiest way for you to sin and that your tongue has the power to affect the entire course of your life (James 3:1-12). Careless words spoken at any moment can impact your character, friendships, loneliness, and peace. Today, we would be wise to memorize and consider a few more Proverbs of Solomon…and maybe one from a cartoon bunny.
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
Thumper (from Bambi)
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”