By Pastor Nathan Richardson
So far this month we have covered being judged and hypocrisy in the church. Today we address gossip. Gossip is one of the easiest things to become involved in and you do not even realize it is happening. It starts out as a prayer request and turns into a “did you hear about so and so?”
A lot of people are confused to what gossip is so I adapted a famous quote from Socrates.
Is it kind? These comments are meant to hurt, divide, torment and dare I use the token word of the year, bully someone else. Ask yourself does this help my situation or does this bring more drama? Does this bring us closer to a resolution or to World War 3? Once you have said something, you can’t take it back. Some of the most powerful things we have are the words we say.
Is it true? Is this something that you know is correct? Who is your source? Have you verified the facts? Journalists can be sued for defamation of character if they were to write an article, but yet anyone can say anything that is unverified gossip and destroy the perception of someone else’s character in a matter of seconds. But even if it is true, please refer to #1.
While working at a church in New York, I received a call telling me someone from the congregation had died. It was awful. I called their home to see if I could speak to his wife. I could not reach her. I called his children. Turns out the ambulance was called to the house because the man had fallen and was taken to the hospital. He was very much alive. This example shows how easily things can get carried away. The man who had called me only saw the ambulance. He had not verified any information. For some reason, he insinuated someone had died. It could have caused a lot more damage than it did.
Is it necessary? What good does it do to shame your child, neighbor or friend? It does show your character. What was your point of saying it? Was it to create dissention? Did it help you and the people you said it about?
Did you have permission to share? I will have people come up to me and ask how someone is doing. At times I have permission to share how they are. At other times I do not. They want to keep it to just family. So many times I answer, “Maybe you should call them. I am sure they would love to hear from you.” If you do not have permission to share, your friends or family members might not want it shared.
Wouldn’t you rather encourage and build up your friends? Don’t you want to be a safe place for your child to come to you when they are hurt? Rather than feel that if they were to come to you they would end up being one of your gossip sessions? We have a long way to go build boundaries in our culture today. If we do, I believe the church will be a better, safer place to be.
Let us learn to be better neighbors as we love God, love others and serve the world.