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Gossip

IN THE January 15 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andChristopher Lewis,
andHelping Hands,
andMinistry Musings
SECTIONS

by Rev. Christopher Lewis,
Nothing is Impossible Ministries

nothing is impossible

It’s amazing how many people I hear talking about what they consider to be the most terrible of sins. They usually focus on sexual things when they do so. However, I would like to suggest today that one of the truly most terrible sins is something that you actually find running rampant among many of the people who talk the most loudly against sin. The name of that sin is gossip.

Romans Chapter 1 talks about the brokenness of humankind saying that “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (verse 18). Those of us who believe the Bible cannot deny that wickedness really does exist in this world. Neither can most among us who don’t believe the Bible when we watch the news.

However, what may come as a surprise to many of us is that gossip is actually listed as one of the symptoms of the wickedness in the world that the Bible says God must judge. I have heard a lot of people use the verses that follow in Romans 1 to talk about homosexuality and to justify their strong stands against it.

However, I’m not writing today about those verses or giving an exposition about whether or not I believe their interpretations of those verses are correct or not.

Rather, I want to point out that the same verses many use to express their strong opinions on that one particular issue also finish with a list of “wicked” behaviors that are stated so unambiguously that they leave no doubt whatsoever about their meaning. Let’s take a look at the verses at the end of this chapter:

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32) NIV.

I have heard of churches that have used Romans 1 as a basis to exclude practicing homosexuals from their fellowship, but I have yet to hear of a church that excluded gossips. I suppose that if a church did choose to do so, it would be a pretty empty church!

Gossip is such a terrible killer, and yet it is accepted by many who consider themselves followers of Christ. Sadly, churches are torn apart by this killer, relationships are destroyed, and people’s self-images are mercilessly ripped apart as a result of the negative things that are said about them.

Of course, most of us don’t approve of gossip, but at the same time most of us participate in it without admitting that we do so. When others gossip about us, we are quick to complain, but when we are with a group of friends who have a juicy tidbit to share about somebody else we sit up and listen.

One way that gossip takes place is so subtle that we often don’t even recognize that it is gossip. Person A tells Person B something in absolute confidence. Then Person B keeps the secret…mostly. However, there is this unwritten rule that many of us believe in that we can tell ONE person we absolutely trust….but nobody else. Person B tells Person C in “absolute confidence” and feels that’s ok because that person is such a good, trusted friend. Person C only tells Person D and nobody else, so Person C’s conscience is clear because he or she doesn’t think that constitutes as gossip. Then Person D tells Person E, Person E tells person F, and within a couple of days the whole Alphabet knows Person A’s secret.

I wonder how much our churches, our workplaces and our lives could be changed if even just a few of us could make a firm commitment in 2011 to say, “The buck stops here!” whenever we hear something negative said about somebody else. We cannot stop others from gossiping, but we can refuse to spread it.

Christopher Lewis is an ongoing contributor to our Helping Hands section, and currently serving as interim pastor at Mountain Valley Community Church in Squaw Valley. More of his insight is available at his blog,
Nothing is Impossible Ministries.

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