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There are few things I hate. However, snakes and gossip stand out as chief among the defiled and detestable. The two are synonymous, in my mind. Gossipers are indeed two-legged snakes: slimy, deliberate and out to inject you with venom. Experience has revealed that those who spend a lot of time talking viciously about other people, either have no other form of conversation, or get a significant rush when they criticize others. They often falsely think that by putting someone else down, they elevate themselves.
Words are extremely powerful. Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Gossip is destructive and it hurts. Hateful words travel to the heart and pierce the soul. Sometimes it hits the brain like shrapnel and can take a lifetime to dislodge. I know firsthand how hurtful gossip can be, how fast gossip travels and how it can destroy one’s self confidence. I have been the target—by both family and those I’ve held in the high esteem of ‘friend.’
As a young girl I overheard a very disheartening conversation about me by two relatives. Not long after that incident I watched the film The Children’s Hour. Stars Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine are portrayed as founders of a girls boarding school in New England. One of the students vengefully spreads a vicious rumor that destroys the women’s reputation, closes the school and ultimately leads to suicide by one of the women. I never forgot the film or the occasion of overhearing my relatives speak about me so viciously. At 11-years-old my heart was crushed and I vowed to never be a part of assassinating someone’s character or reputation or intentionally hurt another person.
Scriptures command that it is never okay to gossip and there are many biblical passages pointing to the damage that can be done by someone who doesn’t keep confidences or who has a loose tongue. Two of my favorites are Proverbs 16:28 (NLT) “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends” and, Psalm 34:13, (ESV) “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.”
I declare a benediction on gossiping. And I’ve developed 5 sure ways to declare your life a gossip free zone.
1. Remember Who You Represent.
As believers, we are ambassadors of Christ. Our responsibility is to present our highest self—as best we can. Yes, we all make mistakes but tearing others down is a clear choice. Paul nails it in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
2. If You Can’t Say Anything Good…
You know the rest of the sentence. It’s just like your grandmother told you and her mother told her. If you can’t say anything good—don’t say anything at all. Ask yourself, “What good may come of this?” If the answer is ‘nothing,’ it probably shouldn’t be said.
3. Distance Yourself
Instead of surrounding yourself with those who talk about other people and other people’s business, surround yourself with those who talk about ideas and who are interested in solving problems. Ignite rich conversations that illuminate and enlighten rather than tear people down.
4. Understand the Nuance of Gossip
There’s nothing good about it. My mother and grandmother used to say, “Any dog that brings a bone, will carry one. ” So be clear that anyone who is gossiping to you is also gossiping about you.
5. Don’t Entertain Gossip
As young girls, my sister and I accompanied mom to the beauty shop every other Saturday. That “shop” was actually Mrs. Gipson’s converted garage. She posted a sign above the hairdryer stating, “No Gossiping Allowed. If You Want to Talk About Someone, Talk About Jesus.” I will never forget that sign. The point is, we must nip gossip in the bud. Cut it off at its knees. Don’t even go there. And, let it be known that talking about other people is not allowed in your space.
The Word of God also teaches us about accountability for every single word that comes out of our mouths! Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV) says, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Let’s use our words with wisdom and grace–-to inspire and lift someone up. Let’s share ideas and create a better world.
Lisa Brown Ross’s career spans radio and television reporting, public relations and public affairs consulting, motivational speaking and leadership development. She is a wife, mother, prayer warrior, poet and “Chief Inspiration Officer” for LisaRossInspiration.com. She serves as President of the LJR Group, Inc. a Public Relations and Public Affairs Firm located in Irving, Texas.
Publication date: October 21, 2014