Rumor has it

I have two questions for you:

First, is slander the same as a lie? Not exactly, I guess, because slander implies an added ingredient: A lie told with malice. Sort of a verbal mixture of gasoline and sparks.

Second: When a gossip or slanderer is not gossiping with you, what is he saying to the people he’s with?

Will Rogers once declared: “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” Can you just imagine it? “Polly wants a cracker: And what do you think about widow Smith hooking up with brother Jones?”

Oops!

We all know that gossip is wrong. There are more Bible passages against gossip than there are parrots in Tennessee. “Do not speak evil of a brother,” James warns. “The one who speaks against or judges a brother, speaks evil against the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge” (James 4:11). Note that James says not to “speak against a brother.”

Period.

We can’t speak against him (or her of course) when we have our facts right or wrong. Sometimes, you see, a gossip declares in flimsy defense: “But what I say is true!”

Yes, my beloved, it may be true. But is it kind?

Most of the time, it’s neither true nor kind.

“Rumor,” Rogers says again, “travels faster, but it don’t stay as long as truth.” The wise man adds: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).

Turns out new Christians have feelings, and they can be hurt. So do preachers have feelings, and elders, and members …

Speak tenderly, speak softly, speak truthfully, and most of all, speak encouragingly of, and to others.

Mostly gossips care little for the facts, less for kindness, and still less for the people whom they hurt.

Gossips don’t care; Christians should.

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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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3 thoughts on “Rumor has it

  1. I’ve never been one to gossip on purpose. Unfortunately, on occasion I have gotten involved in discussions that were probably close to gossip. You know the “pray for sister so and so” discussions which I hate and afterwards leaves me feeling awful.
    I try never to repeat stories, and breaking a confidence would be next to manslaughter in my world. Luckily all my church friends feel the same way.
    Why do people gossip anyway? I’ve never understood that. A friend of mine at church and I recently talked about how easy it is to unnecessarily say negative things in general. I decided to break the habit by putting a rubber band around my wrist. When I thought about saying something negative, I popped it to remind myself that even minor negative words can be painful to others. It works!! Last week I became annoyed at this person and started to complain. My friend said, “Where’s your rubber band?” I shut right up. 🙂

    1. Karen, was just reading through some of the comments on the site, and found yours today. I just love the “Rubber Band” story! Would you grant me permission to share it in a bulletin article? It would do great good, and could have many, many applications. God bless!

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