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gossipping women June 2 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Proverbs 25, 26, 27

Is Gossip so Bad?

Hee Haw is an American television variety show featuring country music and humor with fictional rural Kornfield Kounty as a backdrop. It aired on CBS-TV from 1969–1971 before a twenty year run in local syndication. One of the scenarios from the show featured various female members of the cast surrounding a washtub and clothes wringer singing:

"Now, we're not ones to go 'round spreadin' rumors, Why, really we're just not the gossipy kind, No, you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip, So you'd better be sure and listen close the first time!"*

We laugh at that song. Then, of course, the comedy routine continues with juicy morsels of “truth” shared about their neighbors, and again we all laugh. But is gossip funny? Is it harmless?

Between 971 and 931 B.C. Solomon is king over Israel. He is the wisest man who ever lived (and the wealthiest). The LORD gives him great insight into all of life, and people come from great distances to listen to him. Let's look at what King Solomon writes in Proverbs about gossip.

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19, NIV). Do we talk too much? If we do, it is tempting to gossip. Gossip is like a box of someone else’s candy sitting on a table. It is so tempting to open it up and take one, when we know we shouldn’t. In the same way, we know we shouldn’t open up other people’s lives and let others see what are in the wrapped morsels. However, we know the stories are juicy and sweet, and we can’t resist. When people have nothing worthwhile to say, they often gossip, opening up other people's secrets and adding their own flavor to stories, with hopes they will be even more juicy and sweet to the taste.

Instead of opening up the secret candy of others, we should open up the secret treasures in God's Word, the Bible. King David tells us “taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” In another Psalm it is written, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (119:103, NIV) David writes again, “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders” (Psalm 9:1, NIV). There are so many things to praise the LORD for that there should be no room for gossip.

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13, NIV). “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19, NIV). Perhaps we do not talk too much, but we know someone who does. We certainly do not want to tell him secrets, even if we might consider him a good friend in other ways. If he gossips about others, he will sooner or later gossip about us. We should not listen to a gossip; there are many things we do not need to know. Sometimes knowing this “extra information” can cause our feelings to change about a person, whether what is shared is true or false.

What are some ways to stop a gossip?

  • “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Proverbs 26:20, NIV). In other words, if you know additional information or rumors about a person, consider how sharing it with others might be harmful to him; do not add fuel to the fire.
  • Avoid making friends with a gossip.
  • Rebuke the gossiper. Challenge him by asking if what he shared is absolutely true and ask why he is sharing it with you. This will usually stop the gossip in his tracks.

You may have heard or repeated this common saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words [a later variation, “names” ] will never harm me.” ** Is this true, or do words really hurt people? King Solomon says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18, NIV). Again he tells us, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28, NIV). “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8 and 26:22, NIV) “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin” (Proverbs 26:28, (NIV). Is gossip harmful? Yes! Without a doubt it is damaging. Often gossip is shared with the express purpose to hurt others. The tongue of the wise, however, brings healing, not hurt.

How will we use our tongues, for good or for evil, for healing or for hurting, or for praise? Christians are saved from evil practices. A gossiper behaves like the devil who is called “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:9,10). In the book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul says,

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Ephesians 4:20-25, NIV)

We certainly don't want to be like the Devil—we want to be like Jesus Christ! He can forgive our sins, give us peace and spiritual life (more...). Jesus can help us change our speech. Let's use our tongues for praising God, telling of his wonders. Let's also build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Lessons to Live By

  • If we talk too much it is tempting to gossip.
  • A gossip betrays a confidence and should not be trusted.
  • A gossip brings much harm by his words.
  • To stop a gossip, don’t add fuel to the fire, avoid making friends with him, and rebuke him.
  • The tongue of the wise brings healing, not hurt.
  • Let's use our tongues for praising God, telling of his wonders. Let's also build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Focus Verse

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

** The Christian Recorder of March 1862, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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A Look Ahead: In our Next Lesson King Solomon and others give some Leadership Advice in the book of Proverbs.

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