Summary: Gossip has always been a problem in the church. we read about it in several places in the old testament and the new. This sermon I address the calamity of Gossip and the cure for Gossip.
The Sin of Gossip
Introduction: Whether its formal meetings, dinner table discussions, or late night phone calls; gossip has always been a problem in the church. I saw a cartoon from leadership magazine shows a line of pews and the same sentence being passed from pew to pew.
1st pew - the pastor said his ear kind of hurts. 2nd pew - the pastor has an earache. 3rd pew - The pastor got a hearing aid. 4th pew - the pastor is having trouble hearing. By the time it got to the last pew - An old lady with cane is walking out and says "That does it, I'm outta here! - the pastor done went out and got a double earring!"
A rumor is like a snowball going downhill - the more it moves along the bigger it gets.
There are times that what we say can do more harm than we intend. Gossip is easy to indulge in because it is hardly seen as a sin anyway.
What exactly is a gossip? Webster defines gossip as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, a gossip is a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts. As a verb, gossip is a rumor or a report of an intimate nature.
The sad reality of the matter is this: a gossip is a person who will talk about others with you and then turn around and talk to others about you.
I believe the best definition of gossip is saying something, even if it is true, with the intent to cause personal harm. By that definition we are all guilty. The family member that is considered to be a dead beat the Co-worker is just plain lazy The person at church that gets on your nerves.
Today we are going to focus on two key points about gossip from James 3:1-12 (read)
let's first look into ...
The Calamity of Gossip
James says that no man can tame the tongue. This is what we call hyperbole - it is an exaggeration to make a point and in this case James makes the point that while it may be possible to tame the tongue it is something that is extremely difficult and yet there is no one who has kept it in check perfectly, which makes his statement divine truth - no matter how hard we work to tame it there will be a time when we say more than we should or we say something we shouldn't.
One of the reasons that we need to get a handle on our words is because they are filled with great power. In fact, the tongue has the aggressive ability to destroy. Think about how many reputations have been ruined by careless words. When I work on gas pumps or oil tankers in my shed - I get paint and grease and oil on my jeans and it is difficult to get those stains out of my jeans, but at least I can get a different pair of jeans. But think about how difficult it is to get the dirt off a man's character once it is thrown on him. Once we are in someone's bad books we hardly ever get out of them.
Ill. A senior in high school said that as an eighth grader she was the subject of an online rumor that she had slept with the football team. She said, “I think it was started by the ex-girlfriend of a boy on the team. It didn’t matter where it came from. People wanted to believe it. There was no way to refute it. I wanted to kill myself.” That’s the pain and the devastation that can come from gossip. It’s like a fire.
According to James 3:6 "The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." This is exactly the issue with our words. One moment things are fine and the next moment like a fire, we are dealing with a major problem. James uses fire to describe the uncontrollable nature of our words once they are spoken. Once words are spoken they can't be taken back, no more than a raging fire can bring back everything that it burned up in the first place. When harmful words are sparked, they often spread like wildfire.
When our tongues are set on fire by heaven like it was in Acts 2:1-4 it kindles good thoughts, holy affections, and ardent devotions. James says that the tongue is set on fire by hell. And because of it, the tongue produces lies, slanders, contentions, insults, rage, hatred, and the general purpose of the devil.