Summary: Why is gossip wrong? How can it be corrected?
Coming out of church, Mrs. Smith asked her husband, "Do you think that Johnson girl is tinting her hair?""I didn’t even see her," admitted Mr. Smith."And that dress Mrs. Davis was wearing," continued Mrs. Smith, "Really, don’t tell me you think that’s the proper costume for a mother of two.""I’m afraid I didn’t notice that either," said Mr. Smith."Oh, for heaven’s sake," snapped Mrs. Smith. "A lot of good it does you to go to church."
People who talk about false gods are involved in idol gossip.
I have been praying about unity and building close relationships in the church and in that process, I felt that God was speaking to me about doing a sermon on “gossip.” In the development of this sermon, I found that a lot of things can be classified as “unhealthy speech” and that I myself have been guilty of that kind of speech.
I want you all to know that I am not addressing any person here or any conduct of any person in our church with this sermon. My prayer and hope is that our church grow more personal and intimate…and that the biggest barrier to that growth, and the major tool of our enemy, will be the tongues of our members.
The apostle Paul feared the power of gossip to destroy the church (2 Cor. 12:20) and he didn’t hesitate to list gossips alongside God-haters, murderers, and others. (Romans 1:29-32).
In fact, gossip is condemned from the earliest parts of the Old Testament all the way down to the last pages of the New Testament. And in spite of this condemnation of this action, it tends to be a problem in many churches among many Christians.
Why is this so?
The problem seems to crop up whenever folks get together for any reason, but most especially when the relationships grow closer and more intimate. It seems that these provide a fertile ground for discussion of those who aren’t present. Add to that the good intentioned excuse of “Christian Concern” and you have the potential to kill the atmosphere of trust in a group and hurt someone deeply.
You may be observing that at Here’s Hope Baptist Church we have been developing small groups that meet on Sunday nights as a part of our Sunday night experience. Our groups and people are growing closer and closer as we get to know one another and as we pray for one another. Amid this warm and happy mix we will face the danger that some of us may grow careless in our speech and hurt someone.
It is vital that we unite around what God’s word says about our conduct and speech and bring our lives into compliance with God’s will and plan is for His people. So today, we will try to discover what Gossip is, how it grows and becomes dangerous, and how to stop it from spreading like a cancer in a body.
1. What is Gossip?
a. Gossip involves simply talking about someone who is not present at the time.
i. Actress Susan Sarandon made reference to a personal anecdote during a TV broadcast. At a sleepover party she gave for her 11-year-old daughter, the girls were gossiping about others "really flexing their social muscles". Ms. Sarandon finally said, "Can we just try to not talk about somebody who’s not here?"
One little girl looked up and asked, "Then what are we supposed to talk about?"
ii. While our good intentions can be to be talking in a positive way about someone, it remains inappropriate to speak about someone in their absence. It simply should be avoided!
iii. We don’t always intend to be mean spirited when we speak about someone else.
iv. In fact, oftentimes, we are simply trying to pass on valuable information that can be useful to help someone.
v. But gossip is not only about motive, it is also about “unintended consequences.”
1. If a person is hurt or if another person’s opinion is influenced by our words about someone else, we have gossiped. We have shared or spoken, without love.
b. There are at least 4 levels of gossip.
i. Chit Chat: This is the type that says, “Did you hear that the Simmons are moving?” It is often basic information shared without harmful intent, and often without harmful results.
1. It remains, however, a dangerous element and we must be mindful of what we say.
ii. Prayer Unveiling: This is the type that is innocently phrased in a prayer request but has revelatory consequences. If we offer or ask for prayer for someone who is not present, we need to avoid identifying the person publicly and to be careful of how we phrase the need.
1. Prayer is the business of building our relationship up with God and uplifting others to further God’s kingdom.