Yummy Poison

Background photo from Electronic Gospel

“Have you heard?”

That line and others like it are so hard to resist. No wonder at times gossip is labeled as something juicy. Gossip is so yummy. It appeals to our desire to be in the know. Proverbs 18:8 tells us, “There’s nothing so delicious as the taste of gossip! It melts in your mouth.” (CEV) Somehow, it tends to make us feel superior to others not only because we are in the loop but also because the person we are gossiping about did something that we think we will never do. In the study guide of Jerry White’s Respectable Sins,” Stephen Sorenson wrote, “We gossip or lust because of the sinful pleasure we get out of it. At that time, the lure of that momentary pleasure is stronger than our desire to please God. … So when I gossip, I am rebelling against God.”

And it doesn’t have to be a lie to be gossip. It can even be true. But what makes it gossip? Somebody wrote, “A tattler tells lies or even truths with the intent of causing someone else embarrassment or harm, taking joy at another’s difficulty or shame, but having no real interest in enlisting help in rebuking or restoring the object of her talk.” (Source: Electronic Gospel) Gossip is when we don’t do something with the information except talk about it. It is when we talk to anybody and everybody about it except the person concerned. We don’t really help the person. We actually harm the person. Sorenson added, “Our speech, whether it is about others or to others, tends to tear down or build up. It either corrupts the minds of our hearers, or it gives grace to them. Such is the power of our words. If I gossip, I both tear down another person and corrupt the mind of my listener.” Gossip poisons both the one who spreads it and the one who listens to it. The Message version goes like this, “Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?”

So, how do we respond when somebody offers us a bite? Tell him to talk directly to the one he is talking about. You can even offer to accompany him. Or, ask, “May I quote you?” If he refuses, then that’s mere gossip. You don’t have to let that poison you. People who care would talk directly to those concerned. Those who don’t would just gossip.

My take? Gossip is tasty but toxic.

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