What is gossip, exactly? I’ve heard several definitions and been given several checklists to go through when deciding whether or not to say something over the years. You’ve probably heard these as well.
1. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I think Thumper’s momma came up with that one. I’ve used it with my own kids.
2. “Before you speak, ask yourself three questions. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” This one actually helps me the most. The word “necessary” gets me every time. Very, very rarely can I truly say that something is necessary.
3. “Don’t talk about a person or situation with anyone unless they have the power to help.” I can see where the person who came up with this is going, but, honestly, this is just the loophole that I need when I really, really want to tell someone what I know. I can think of all kinds of people who could help. Can’t you?
These are good reminders and help some people set boundaries, but I think that most of us know when we are gossiping. Those who belong to Christ should, anyway. After all, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and one of His jobs is to let us know when we are about to step out of line or already have. The problem is that we’ve become desensitized to His voice. Afraid of being left out of the “loop” or forfeiting our perceived social standing, we’ve become very adept at stamping out conviction and squeezing the Holy Spirit out of our conversational huddles.
That being said, I’ve discovered a few truths myself over the years. Here they are, for what they are worth.
1. Whom you confide in says a lot about your motives.
2. Those who gossip with you also gossip about you.
3. Pointing out the faults of others only makes you look bad.
4. If you are wondering whether or not you should say something, you shouldn’t.
5. Talking about another person’s misfortune shouldn’t bring you any measure of happiness or thrill.
6. Those who really need to “know the facts” usually already do.
7. If you are truly concerned about a person’s spiritual health, you will talk to them, not about them.
8. To discuss strife and conflict within the church with non-believers is to put a stumbling block square in their path.
9. If you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, you shouldn’t say it behind their back.
10. No matter how hard you try, you can’t take words back.
Uncomfortable? Me, too.
Here’s hoping you will let conviction burn just a second before you try to stamp it out. No, it doesn’t feel good, but surrendering to it now will save you a lot of anxiety and remorse in the long run. Believe me! It will also keep the pathway clear for God to work in the lives of others through you. He will teach you things about Himself and let you in on what He’s up to. All things considered, I think I’d rather be kept in His “loop” than anyone else’s. Wouldn’t you?