It continues to be disturbing to discover how many of our Christian friends still indulge in perpetrating what we call “the most painful sin.” We have published the equivalent of these remarks on several occasions before, yet we find that this still continues relatively unabated in certain quarters. Prayerfully consider the following reflections...
What sin has probably caused more pain than any other?A well-qualified candidate is gossip! It is, in its most formal form, a violation of “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”1
However, even in its more subtle forms, gossip is probably accountable for more personal pain and suffering than most of us have any appreciation of.
Gossip is a form of betrayal! Although it may be common and casual, it is hurtful beyond our reckoning. Quietly, behind the flurry of daily priorities, its venom does its silent work, undermining confidences, betraying relationships, spreading unseen injustices, and invisibly promoting misunderstandings and dis-trust.And, especially in ministry, it is often Satan’s most effective weapon: it is covert, with plausible deniability; slanderous, requiring no credible evidence.
The Scripture has much to say about gossip:
Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the Lord.
A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Proverbs 18:8; 26:22
He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
Our Lord’s Example
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone....
As most of you know, our own personal troubles at the beginning of this ministry included bankruptcy, earthquakes, and relocating from our family roots. But the most pain—which still endures from the traumas of those difficult years—came from the libel and slander that was promoted (or tolerated) by a few of our “Christian” friends. Most of us can probably relate to similar experiences.
It’s disturbing to note how many of us have been injured—deeply—by gossip and by those who accepted, without checking, negative or derogatory innuendos whispered behind our backs.
Fortunately, in contrast, we have also received the indescribable encouragement, on a number of occasions, from the reaction of several radio talk show hosts (and also on Internet traffic over various controversies) by those who have rebutted aspersions about us—without even needing to “check.” Praise God for such examples!
A “Christian” Subterfuge
You have probably also witnessed the following hallway murmur: “I don’t want to gossip. However, in order that you might pray more specifically for ____, let me share with you the latest....”
Isn’t this just a rather transparent cloak for gossip? As you know, a secret is something you tell one person at a time. And a rumor is a favorite weapon of the assassins of character.
What is true friendship? A relationship that doesn’t require explanations. One that gives us the assurance of receiving the benefit of the doubt. A friend is one who is loyal and shuns any form of betrayal. We know, of course, that none of you are guilty of these abuses—these suggestions have been offered to help you counsel your needy friends.♦ (Right?)