Gossip: The Butt of Every Joke
By Hannah Goodwyn
Britney Spears… Jon and Kate Gosselin... Lindsay Lohan… Tom Cruise...
These always-in-the-news celebrities have one thing in common with people you know, such as your co-worker or that girl at church. They’re the butt of jokes. From late night TV shows to the office water cooler to church picnics, gossip abounds. And if we’re honest, most of us are guilty of being a part of it.
The Bible has quite a few things to say about gossip. But, before we get to that, let’s define this commonly used practice. According to dictionary.com, gossip is “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others” and “rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.”
They are Celebrities… It’s Part of the Job
God’s Word doesn’t condone gossip, period. It doesn't matter that our jokes are about the exploited lives of those we consider the glamorous elite. Leave Britney Spears and every other target in our flawed society alone for all of our sakes. Ripping on each other’s mistakes doesn’t build anyone up; we’re tearing ourselves down.
With so much gossip filling our mouths and ears, we become desensitized to the fact that we’re passing judgment. How can we be considered decent humans – let alone followers of Christ – if we are too proud to show kindness to others?
As Christians, we’re supposed to be imitating Jesus Christ’s example of how to live. I wouldn’t call myself a Biblical scholar, but I don’t think there’s anywhere in the Bible that depicts our Savior as someone who would poke fun for thrills. I can’t see God sitting in Heaven making wise cracks at anyone's expense.
Who Has the Right to Judge?
First off, we all make mistakes. What gives us the right to “gossip pray” or judge the girl at church who’s pregnant? I’m not talking about genuine concern for others that you feel compelled to discuss their circumstance, especially when you are led to pray for them. No, my beef is when our motives words are judgmental.
Matthew 7:1-3 encourages us to refrain from judging one another – for good reason.
Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. (The Message)
God’s View on Gossip
The wisdom found in Proverbs also touches on this topic of gossip. In chapter 18, Solomon warns readers about the harm it can cause.
Fools are undone by their big mouths; their souls are crushed by their words. Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly? Proverbs 18:7-9 (The Message)
Earlier in the book, he talks about the power of the tongue.
Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. (Proverbs 12:18 NLT)
We’re commanded by our Creator to treat everyone with care and compassion, the same way I want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). How would you feel if you were the butt of everyone’s jokes? Your mistakes and flaws were at the center of daily conversation. I’m thinking we would hate that; I know I would.
Take these next few verses from Ephesians to heart so that the next time you’re tempted to gossip or laugh at the expense of someone else you don't.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Ephesians 4:29-31 (The Message)
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and info, visit Hannah's bio page.
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