Gossip is Not a Harmless Sin
[Guest Post by Jenee Day: I honestly used to think gossiping was okay, even though I was a Christian. As I got older, I realized, like Jenee, gossip is not a harmless sin. Here’s why.]
Today I contributed to the destruction of a relationship.
Contributed is probably the wrong word. Comparing the relationship to a skyscraper being demolished, I would be the person who provided the explosives. Not directly, not intentionally, but with a little bit of ‘harmless’ sin.
I was having a difficult day, and I called my friend to talk about it.
Disclosure: Gossip is a sin I struggle with. It’s easy for me to rationalize and honestly, it feels good. It feels good to have a laugh at someone else’s expense, when that person has hurt or angered me. Gross, right?
Gossiping is also a way for me to feel justified about my feelings while showcasing my mind-blowing sense of humor. Nothing wrong with a joke or two, right? Besides, if it makes me feel better, and the person being talked about never hears it, then I’m not really hurting anyone, am I?
Here are some verses from God’s word:
Be careful with your words. James 3:5 “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
Speak nicely. 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.”
Let your words be pleasing to God. Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Your words will be judged. Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”
(Wow! Clearly God frowns upon this kind of behavior.)
When I hung up the phone, I felt lighter. My frustration gone, I felt unburdened and free. Sadly, by not giving my frustration to Jesus in the first place, all I did was transplant it. I caused my friend to sin on that phone call, and then she continued to struggle with the thoughts and frustration I had suffered from. How irresponsible of me!
So, let me ask again: If I feel better when the conversation is over, and the person being talked about never hears it, then I’m not really hurting anyone, am I?
Wrong! First, I hurt God. I hurt him by disobeying, and by saying ugly things about one of his children, who he adores. Second, I hurt my friend by leading her to sin. I hurt myself by sinning and tarnishing my witness. Finally, I hurt the friend I was convinced would never find out.
Well, as I mentioned before, when the phone call was over, I felt great. Sadly, my friend was now burdened. She allowed our conversation to replay her mind, until finally she picked up the telephone, called our other friend, and LET HER HAVE IT.
Later that night, my phone rang. It was my gossip buddy, calling to rejoice in her victory. After hours of deliberation, she had decided to call our other friend and unload on her. Convinced she had acted righteously, she recounted every word, and how she had let our friend know “what we were all thinking”. Immediately, I thought, “what have you done?” followed in quick succession by “What have I done?”
I hung up the phone and got on my knees. I begged God’s forgiveness for the role I played in destroying this relationship. I repented of my disobedience in the moment I chose it. I cried. The friend I gossiped about does not have a relationship with Christ. Oh, Father, what have I done? My ‘feel good’ sin left the bond between two friends in shambles.
Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” So we are instructed to “speak life” to others, that we might be a blessing to them.
As followers of Christ, we must love the lost more fervently and sincerely. A slip of the tongue – a harmless joke – could push someone away from salvation permanently. There’s nothing funny about that.
Jenee Day is a freelance writer and researcher and published poet. A member of the Spiritual Writer’s Association, she has written for textbroker.com and various regional publications. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two kids, and her heart belongs to Jesus.