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1. Two weeks ago I preached a sermon entitled, "Taming the Tongue."
a. I received a lot of feedback on it, even though it was general.
b. Like to follow up that lesson with a much more practical one on gossip.
2. You and I don't take the sin of gossip as seriously as we ought.
a. We would if we understood it better.
b. Seems like a small sin when compared to others.
c. It is not a small sin to God (cf. Rom. 1:28-32).
I. WHAT IS GOSSIP?
A. Some definitions:
1. Random House College Dictionary: "Idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others."
a. I think most of us know what we're talking about.
b. Talk about a person (true or not!) showing them in a less than positive light!
2. There are times, of course, when truth about others, however harsh, must be shared with third parties.
a. Those times are few and far between.
b. We should always exercise great care in talking to someone else about a person who is not present.
B. Here's the key for getting a handle on gossip--it is information about another person TRUE or NOT, showing them in a less than positive light.
1. Hebrew word for "slander" simply means "bad report."
a. It's what Joseph did to his brothers (Gen. 37:2).
b. There was a law against this sort of thing in Israel (Lev. 19:16).
c. Illust. Debbie Scales, in an article in Christian Woman magazine, says: "This verse brings to mind the picture of a person making her way through the ranks of the already murmuring and unhappy Israelite travelers. As she goes up and down among the people, she whispers the latest news of the camp. `Don't quote me on this, but I've heard that Moses may be on his way out. There are other men, you know, who could lead just as well as Moses anyway--probably better. And by the way, have you noticed how the Zuriel family is always the first group out to gather manna every morning? I probably shouldn't even mention it, but there's no need to be greedy, if you ask me. Oh, there go those rambunctious Ashbel boys again! I do wish their parents would control them a little better. I don't like to talk about people, but he way they let those boys behave is just a shame!'" ("I Don't Mean to Gossip, but ..." in Christian Woman 3, Sept/Oct 1987, p. 17).
2. The NT has two interesting words regarding this sin of the tongue.
a. Katalaleo ("slander").
b. Psithuristas ("gossip"; KJV--"whisperers").
c. Illust. Only difference between "gossip" and "slander" is one of degrees. Suppose you wanted to kill someone. More than one way to do it. Take a shotgun, walk right up to their face, announce that you're going to shoot them, and then blow them away. That's slander. Or, you could take a rifle with a scope. Attach a silencer to it, hide yourself a safe distance away, kill them from long-distance. Never know what hit them. That's gossip.
II. WAY TO AVOID THIS SIN IS TO OBEY POSITIVE NT TEACHING.
A. Eph. 4:29-32.
B. Phil. 4:8.
Wouldn't this old world be better
If folks we meet would say,
I know something good about you!
And then treat you that way?
Wouldn't it be fine and dandy,
If each handclasp warm and true
Carried with it this assurance,
I know something good about you!
Wouldn't life be lots more happy
If the good
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