Listeners Bear a Burden Too

by Stan Mitchell
“A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever” (Proverbs 21:28, NIV).
You know the story about the lady who apologized to her preacher for spreading some juicy piece of gossip. He tore a hole in a pillow, and allowed the goose feathers to fly away in the wind.
The point of the story was that retrieving a piece of gossip was as impossible as retrieving all those feathers, scattered across the plains. But I know how to stop gossip.
We love to hear gossip. And especially if the gossip is racy, if it brings the rich and famous down to our level. Somehow we feel affirmed if a film star’s beauty was, well, cosmetically enhanced.
We reason that all it would take for us to be as stunning is a nip here, and a tuck there. In my case, only minor surgery would be necessary, right? But I know the secret to stopping gossip, dead in its tracks.
It takes two to gossip, a speaker, and a willing listener. Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everyone enjoys. It seems that though we don’t believe everything we hear, that doesn’t stop us from repeating it.
Is it really true that “that church” didn’t do so and so, or is the speaker really seeking an excuse for not being faithful? Is it really true that that “horrible man” did those things to his wife, or is she simply trying to get back at him?
The best way to stop gossip, dead in its tracks, is to stop listening. While it is certainly true that the gossiper is wrong to spread rumors, it is also true that the listener enables gossip to spread. He is the wind that spreads the feathers to places far and wide!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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