A Delicious Sin

Some wag once observed, “Christians don’t gossip, they just share ‘prayer requests.’” Gossip and slander are damnable but the problem, as Solomon points out is, gossip so “delicious.” Whole magazines at the checkout counter are devoted to it and unfortunately, you can hear otherwise good Christians slandering other Christians. In hushed voices tinged with concern they begin:

“I love brother Smith dearly but…”

“If they were my children…”

“You know the trouble with …”

“It’s so sad. I really want to help…”

“If I were in his shoes…”

One of my favorite authors, William Barclay, describes:

“The word that James uses for to speak harshly of, or, to speak evil of, is the verb katalalein. Usually this verb means to speak evil of someone else in that person’s absence, to criticize, to insult, to slander someone when he is not there to defend himself. This sin of slander and of insult and of evil-speaking is condemned all through the Bible…In the Pauline letters katalalia, the noun, is translated back-biting.… Katalalia is the sin of those who meet in corners and gather in little groups and pass on confidential tidbits of whispered information which destroy the reputation and good name of those who are not there to defend themselves.… People are slow to realize that there are few sins which the Bible so unsparingly condemns as the sin of irresponsible and malicious gossip.”

No sin is so universally condemned! God condemns it, “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off,” (Psalm 101:5). Paul condemns it (2 Corinthians 12:20). Peter condemns it (1 Peter 2:1). James condemns it (James 4:11-12).

You can guard against gossip by asking yourself three questions before you open your mouth:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it kind?
  3. Is it necessary?

Before I close today’s article, did you hear about ….

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