Summary: The sin of gossip continues to be a problem in our society and can causes hurts, damage relationship, and destroy the body of Christ. With the development of instant messaging and online diaries, gossip is able to spread at a pace like never before.
DID YOU REALLY SAY THAT?
A. Norman Rockwell had the ability to portray everyday life in a way unlike most other artists. The faces in his paintings are always full of expression, on the verge of being cartoonish, yet his paintings always seem to carry some kind of message for life. As we look at his painting (on the screen) at first it not seem to make a lot of sense–it’s just a lot of faces. It doesn’t take long, though, to figure out what the painting is about as you notice that the first person is talking to someone who in turn talks with someone else who also passes the message along until it finally gets back to the person that started it all. You can probably guess the title of the painting –Gossip.
B. Gossip seems to be one of the "acceptable" sins in our society today. We don’t talk about it nearly as much as we do it! But before I go on, I want to make sure that we know exactly what we’re talking about here: What is gossip? Random House College Dictionary : "Idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others." One dictionary (Yahoo online) defines a gossip as "A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts."
Some people mistakenly believe that if you pass on something that is true that it’s not gossip. However, gossip can be simply rumor, or it might be the truth–generally, it is gossip when you pass on something that would be hurtful to the person it is about. Here’s the thing–it’s so easy to get caught up in spreading gossip. Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
Not only that, but we have enquiring minds and "enquiring minds want to know." When the National Enquirer came out with that slogan they really hit us where we live, because there is a desire in most of us to want to know what is going on in the lives of other people. This has spun off other gossip publications like "People" magazine. TV shows have popped up: Access Hollywood and Extra.
C. But we don’t talk much about the sin of gossip because there are so many of the "so-called" big sins that we deal with–things like alcoholism, drug abuse, the sins of sexual immorality–that this sin seems to get little attention. Controlling what we say is important. It causes hurt, damages relationships, and creates barriers between people More than that, it can hurt the body of Christ, and has devastated churches.
When I was a child in Sunday School we used to sing, "O be careful little tongue what you say." That is still good advice for us today. That is what James talks about in the passage that we are going to study this morning.
READ: James 3:2-10
I> CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES (COST)
A. There’s an old saying that says, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Most of you probably had some loud mouth kid in your neighborhood that used to say that all the time. The bottom line is that words do hurt–what we say does matter.
James 3:6-8 (NIV) says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.... All kinds of animals...have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” That ought to tell us something–we need to be on guard
B. Gossip used to be portrayed as what took place when talking over the backyard fence. With the invention of the telephone, gossip was given legs and it could travel greater distances in a short period of time. Now with the internet gossip has taken on a whole new persona. When we think about the problems with the internet we usually think about pornography, or illegal downloading of music and movies, or perverts hanging around in chat rooms trying to prey on some unsuspecting teen. With the internet, gossip has become lightning fast.
Instant messaging has become a big part of internet use. Free programs allow you to have a typed conversation with any other person in the world that hooked up to the internet. It’s great for talking with family and friends–I know Herb Warner talks with some of his kids every day. Many of our teens and even younger are proficient at instant messaging. To make things faster when you type people have come up with abbreviations or acronyms for frequently used phrases
ILL> Test - abbreviations or acronyms of instant messaging
ASAP - as soon as possible
UR - your
L8R - later