Ephesians 4:29-32 - Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
The tongue can be a dangerous instrument.
Among the more nasty things a tongue can be told to do is gossip. Gossip is especially nasty because you can never completely repair the damage it does.
Perhaps you've heard about a lady who repeated a bit of "untruth" about her neighbor. Within a few days, the whole community knew the story. The person it concerned was deeply hurt and offended.
Later, the woman responsible for spreading the rumor learned her info was completely untrue. She was very sorry and went to a church elder to find out what she could do to repair the damage.
"Go to the marketplace," he said, "and purchase a feather pillow. On your way home, open the pillow and drop its feathers, one by one along the road."
Although surprised by this advice, the woman did what she was told.
The next day the wise man said, "Now, go and collect all those feathers you dropped yesterday and bring them back to me."
The woman followed the same road, but to her dismay the wind had blown all the feathers away. After searching for hours, she returned with only three feathers in her hand.
"You see," said the old sage, "It's easy to drop them, but it is impossible to get them back. So it is with gossip. It doesn't take much to spread a rumor, but once you do you can never completely undo the wrong."
We hate to repeat gossip, but what else can you do with it?
After three years of researching gossip, Indiana University sociologist Donna Eder identified an important dynamic involved in gossip. Eder discovered that the initial negative statement was never the starting point for gossip.
The negative statement lives or dies on what happens next.
1. If one person, or a number of people, agree with the gossip that has been thrown out on the table, that bit of gossip is pretty much free to go anywhere it wants.
2. On the other hand, if the gossip was challenged by someone, it would die, or get demoted, or, all in all, become a pretty pitiful thing.
In short, gossip, at least initially, isn't as strong a force as we often thing it to be. This is why an individual can often stop gossip dead in tracks by speaking up for the person who is being maligned.
And amongst those people whom we ought to be defending from gossip and attacks of the tongue is our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. The lies which were spread about Him at His trials are still being passed on 21 centuries later. The difference is now it is our privilege to defend the Savior, to speak well of Him, and to encourage others to put the best construction on everything.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, keep me from gossip and grant my tongue the wisdom to share the Savior's story and sing Your praises. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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