Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Gossip Pushers and Junkies Hurt Everyone

This morning, for my quiet time, the passage of Scripture on which I camped was Proverbs 18:1-8. (You can find those verses here.)

The temptation when we read passages like these is to start thinking of all the people "out there" who are unfriendly, who gossip, who spout opinions without the facts, who trap themselves in their own self-centered verbiage. 

But the moment such thoughts sneak up on me is the one in which I need to say, "God, what are You telling me in these words?" 

Verse 8 brought across to me the importance of refraining from anything like gossip. It says: "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts."

There are several important points to remember when considering this wisdom given by God through Solomon.

First: From the Christian perspective, the gossip we pass on to others may be factually true or factually untrue. The thing that makes gossip gossip isn't its facticity; it's whether the gossip is less than charitable toward the subject of the gossip. 

In his explanation of the Eighth Commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," Martin Luther says in The Small Catechism
We should fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, lie, or gossip about our neighbors, but defend them, speak well of them, and put the most charitable construction on all that they do.
Gossip is designed to denigrate other human beings, questioning things like their integrity, trustworthiness, or intelligence. And defending gossip by saying, "But it's all true," is, in the eyes of God, no defense.

Second: When we gossip, according to Proverbs 18:8, we are feeding people "choice morsels." Gossip is like a slowly-but-surely acting poison wrapped in chocolate and it becomes part of the person who receives it, distorting their views of those being gossiped about and those who pass on the gossip. Gossip harms its recipients spiritually, diminishing their capacity for love. 

A common saying is, "You are what you eat." As Christians who trust that Christ is truly present in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we believe that, as we receive Christ's in, with, and under the bread and the wine, Christ actually enters us, working to transform us from the inside out. Just so, gossip we receive with credulity stays with us and sets to work to lure us into sin and pride, to corrode our trust in God and others, to make us cynical, separating us from God and from others.

Gossip is horrible stuff: The one who gossips is like a drug pusher; the credulous recipient is an addicted junkie; and the entire process of gossip transmission and reception, like any other addiction, has a destructive impact on all who encounter pusher or junkie. 

We need to pray both that God would keep us from engaging in gossip and from giving it a place in our lives. 

At least this is how God spoke to me in this verse today. What do you think?

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