One of the things I’ve been reminded of lately is how quickly news travels, especially bad or ugly news. In addition, on a personal level, I’ve struggled mightily in recent days with knowing WHAT to say, what NOT to say, HOW to say something, and WHEN to say it.
We are all susceptible to so-called “sins of the tongue.” These include such things as gossip, slander, critical speech, insults, sarcasm and ridicule.
In Matthew 12:36, Jesus said: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
It sounds like our words are pretty important to God and something we’ll have to account for when we stand before Jesus’ throne.
Slander and gossip are two of the most common sins in the church (I’m referring to the “church” broadly, not just First Baptist).
Slander is making a false statement or misrepresentation about another person that defames or damages their reputation. It includes ascribing wrong motives to a person, or saying that another believer is “not committed” when he she does not practice their faith in the same way we do.
Gossip is even trickier. Gossip is the unwarranted or unnecessary spreading of unfavorable information about someone else, even if that information is true. A fact becomes gossip when it doesn’t need to be said. Obviously, a lot of gossip is based on rumor . . . the actual truth of which is unknown to the person spreading the information.
Indulging in slander or gossip seems to feed our sinful ego. It makes us feel self-righteous by comparison and gives us a sense of power in knowing something that somebody else does not.
When tempted to slander or gossip, we should ask ourselves: Will what I’m about to say tend to tear down or build up the person I’m about to talk about?