“A gossip betrays a confidence.” Proverbs 11:13
Rich worked for a public utility for nine years before he bid on the Power Lineman position successfully. By the time his bid was accepted, everyone at the company knew he was a Christian and he knew most of the men on the crews quite well. He was not a perfect Christian since he was still a human, complete with all those pesky flaws!
Becoming a lineman requires three years apprenticeship both on-the-job and two nights per week at school. His apprentice class had eight men, five from his company and three from another. By their second year, the men had established camaraderie, a male bonding.
In the third and final year, while taking a break from studies they began to chat about various subjects and gradually drifted into cheating. There were suppositions about men who had cheated on final tests to assure themselves of getting their job. For some reason, Rich spoke up to say he heard that Steve made arrangements with the instructor, who was a friend, to give him help on the final test. Rich had heard this rumor and suddenly the slander was gushing out of his mouth, tainting his Christian testimony and harming Steve’s character. By this time, Steve was a foreman and very competent at his craft.
The strange thing about gossip is that when you spread rumors, you often deny the harm to yourself, justifying your behavior as though it was not that important. Sadly, in the process of denial, we squelch God’s quiet voice that is prodding our conscience.
Two days after spreading the gossip, while Rich was getting his tools together for the day’s work, Steve came to him, walking across the parking lot. Rich had forgotten about his actions and wondered what Steve had to say. What Steve said, pierced his heart.
“Rich, I heard you told the guys in class that I cheated on my lineman test. Is that true?” His eyes stared relentlessly into Rich’s.
“I am so sorry, Steve. I heard the rumor and just blurted it out.”
“I am really disappointed in you, man. I expected better from you.” He stared a few more agonizing seconds and then turned and walked away leaving Rich with a sorrowful heart.
A few years later, Rich became an Electrical Troubleshooter. Steve was his boss!
Proverbs 11:13 No one who gossips can be trusted with a secret, but you can put confidence in someone who is trustworthy.
Proverbs 16:28 Gossip is no good! It causes hard feelings and comes between friends.
Proverbs 18:8 What dainty morsels rumors are—but they sink deep into one’s heart.
Proverbs 26:20 Without wood, fire goes out; without a gossip, conflict dies down.
Jeremiah 51:46 Don’t lose courage or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land. One rumor comes one year; another rumor comes the next year.
Matthew 24:4-6 Jesus answered them, “Be careful not to let anyone deceive you. 5 Many will come using my name. They will say, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many people. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Don’t be alarmed! These things must happen, but they don’t mean that the end has come.
Ephesians 4:30-31 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
The night that Rich joined in spreading rumors and bringing a slanderous accusation against Steve, he brought harm to his Christian testimony and to Steve’s character as well. Unlike us, God does not think there are degrees of sin…all sin is repugnant to God and grieves Him greatly. God even turned his face away from His own Son on the cross of Calvary when He became sin!
Occasionally slanderous emails make the rounds. They accuse a person or company of a crime, taking advantage of people or mocking the United States. Instantly those emails burn up the internet as people take them as true, respond with outrage and anger, and gladly forward them to friends. God says that behavior is sin and equates it with: bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and malicious behavior.
Instead of living by rumors, we can live by the words of Ephesians 4:32…”Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you!”