When I first sat down weeks ago (ok…it was months ago) to start this series of blogs I was excited. I had never done a series before and I was still quite the newbie at blogging. However, as time passed, I found myself looking at a list of sins I was ashamedly well acquainted with. The initial article by Cockrell was called “8 Sins Christians are Starting to Ignore.” In many ways I’ve come to believe Cockrell’s title might be much too generous for Christians. I’m not so sure these are sins we are “starting to ignore.” I think these are sins we are used to and very comfortable with. The sixth sin of “Gossip” is as popular in church as pews and Christmas plays. In fact, I heard a pastor once say that Christians were unusually good at this particular sin. Pastor Ray Ortlund, Jr. of Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville, TN once said, “Let’s all admit it. We love gossip.”
What can I say about gossip? We all know it’s wrong…but that doesn’t stop us. Passing on a little information about someone else seems so harmless, doesn’t it? Surely God approves of us pointing out the mistakes others make. Sharing our spiritual insight on the failures of others has to be beneficial to the Kingdom doesn’t it???? Perhaps we should come back to something very basic and remember the Bible calls this a “sin.” This sin is scary in many ways. For starters, it’s terribly easy to do. Without premeditation, words about other people can come quickly and be laced with poison. James tried to warn us in chapter 3 of his book when he said the tongue was a restless evil and full of deadly poison. He also said that though the tongue was a small part of the human body, it was capable of great and terrible sin. James hit a 3 with that one! 🙂 Gossip is also scary in that most of the time, we often tend to feel very “righteous” when we do it. After all…gossip isn’t about what you and I have done…it’s about what someone else or “they” have done. In short, we tend to feel good and justified in the midst of the sin…after all, they did it…not you or I. A third and final reason the sin is scary is that it has the ability and power to destroy a person’s life…regardless of the truth. The Bible teaches us that within the family of God, our words are supposed to uplift, edify, and encourage others. The Bible is pretty clear that’s what we should expect from our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Heaven alone knows how many Christians have stopped attending churches because of the excessive use of hurtful words. It’s a little wonder that Christians have been historically described as those who “shoot their wounded.”
The sin of gossip has been with us a long time. We have all done it…and chances are we’ve also been on the receiving end of it. I think it’s also safe to say we have all been hurt and bruised by the words of other people. In the end, the Bible calls this behavior sinful. It is never described in Scripture as permissible, justified, or spiritual. When we are guilty of it…we are sinning. When we listen to it and feed on it, we are also sinning. Perhaps the heaviest and weightiest truth about this sin is that God knows every word we say. Jesus spoke of the coming judgement in Matthew 12:36-37. He stressed that everyone would have to give an account of every careless word spoken. Ouch!
Today would be a good day to draw a line in the sand with this particular sin. Call it what it is. Ask yourself how much you like it when others talk about you. Remember that listening to it is an encouragement for others to keep on doing it. James said no one could tame the tongue…but he never said to stop trying.
Blessings to all. Thanks again Monticello.