SUNDAY PREVIEW: Malignant Talk!

Many in our society live by the motto, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, let’s hear it.” Think about all of the television programs that specialize in gossip: Access Hollywood, TMZ, Extra, and a host of others cater to the public’s insatiable desire for celebrity news, even if that news is private, half-truth, or completely fabricated. Ever glance at the magazine rack while standing in the line at the grocery store? Numerous tabloids filled with celebrity gossip attempt to catch the curious eye of the consumer. Shocking headlines are meant to draw interest from the shopper who cannot resist the latest juicy rumor. Gossip is a problem. It’s a huge problem. An even bigger problem is the fact that we don’t see it as a problem. Satan has a very slick marketing campaign when it comes to selling gossip to Christians. We don’t call it gossip. We call it, “sharing our concerns.” As long as we preface our gossip with that phrase then it’s okay. We can say anything we want.

Gossip is an all-you-can-eat buffet with a dessert bar. Gossip tastes so good, but it sinks its teeth into our hearts, our souls, our minds. It goes down into our innermost parts and spreads like gangrene. Make no mistake, even though we don’t often view gossip as a major sin, God certainly does. Notice what the apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:28-32.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Gossip is lumped in with such sins as: murder, inventors of evil, and haters of God. Paul drives home the severity of this sin, as well as the others mentioned, by stating “that those who practice such things are worthy of death. So, we may engage in gossip. We may listen to gossip. We may disguise it with phrases like, “I’m just concerned,” or “bless their heart.” What we cannot do is gloss over gossip off as if it is harmless. We cannot afford to pretend that God is indifferent toward this sin. Romans 1:28-32 is describing the lives of unbelievers who have shunned God, which means that gossip and slander are characteristic of pagans, not Christians. When we gossip, we talk like people who have rejected Christ.

A little 3-year-old boy was bored at home and began looking for some way to entertain himself. He made his way through the house, searching for something to get into. He reached the bathroom and spotted the toothpaste on the sink counter. He immediately grabbed hold of it and began squeezing it as tight as his little hands could squeeze. As you can imagine, the contents squirted out onto the sink, the bathroom floor, and anything else that was in the vicinity. After emptying the tube, the little boy felt remorse. Sensing that mom would not be too happy with his actions, he began picking up the splattered toothpaste with his bare hands and attempted to stuff it back into the tube. He worked vigorously to reverse what he had done, but soon learned that toothpaste doesn’t go back into the tube as easily as it comes out. Our words are very similar. It’s so easy to let words flow from our mouths. It’s much more difficult to put them back in. Once we’ve said something, it’s hard to take it back. It’s like trying to stuff toothpaste back into the tube. Let’s not get to that point. Let’s use our tongues responsibly!

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

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