A gossip is one who reveals personal information about others, and I had a first-hand with one experience recently. This past Sunday night, my husband and I were not at the work function long before someone spoke in a low voice to me over a glass of wine saying: “Do you know________? And did you hear_______ about him? Assuming I was being polite, I listened to what he said.
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.' Henry Thomas Buckle, but also misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt
As I considered what was shared with me, it made me sad. That person was talked about unbeknownst to him and completely without his permission or knowledge. And the information was less than flattering.
Please don’t think I am sitting here behind my computer, all high and mighty as though I have never been a gossip in my life. Instead, hear me out as someone who truly wants to stop!
When You Open Your Mouth
3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything or destroy it!
5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue;it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
10-12 My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
Live Well, Live Wisely
13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom. It's the furthest thing from wisdom's animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others throats.
17-18 Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. James 3, The Message Translation
Gossip is unconstrained and often derogatory conversation about other people, and can involve betraying a confidence and spreading sensitive information or hurtful judgments.
So why do we sometimes gossip? Did you know? Here are a few reasons why someone might talk about someone else’s private life behind their back:
• To feel superior
• Out of boredom
• Out of envy
• To feel like part of the group
• For attention
• Out of anger or unhappiness
Let’s make a plan to prepare for unwelcome gossip. Following are five responses we might use as a comeback:
“I notice that you talk about ______ a lot. I’m curious why she interests you so much?”
“Let’s take a look at it from _______’s side.”
“I am more interested in what you are up to.”
“Let’s talk about something more positive or decide what we’re going to do this afternoon.”
“I feel uncomfortable listening to negative judgments about people unless we figure out how to help them.”
What might you and I do the next time we encounter someone who wants to share unwelcome gossip with us?
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