Would you like lies with that?

Why is it that all the things that taste so sumptuously savoury and sweet are bad for me?

Why is it that a soft fatty camembert or an extra-bitey mature cheddar is so harmful to my heart? I thought that maturity was a good thing.

Why is it that chocolate is so bad for my health? I thought it was full of life-prolonging antioxidants.

And why does gossip taste so delicious when the Bible says it’s so destructive?

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s most inmost parts (Proverbs 18:8).

At times it feels so good I think that, like the antioxidants in my favourite chocolate (who am I kidding, all chocolate is my favourite chocolate), it has some therapeutic value?

Sometimes I wish the Bible wouldn’t put a dampener on some of the most delectable delights. Why is it so down on gossip?

A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends (Proverbs 16:28).

They (people who suppress the truth by their wickedness) have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips (whisperers), slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful. They invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless (Romans 1:29-30).

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be. I fear that there may be quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder (2 Corinthians 12:20).

I can think of three reasons why the Bible is against gossip:

Gossip that may be false is sinful

A man once told me that another man was in the early stages of dementia. Years later I met the man whose health was in question and his mind was sharper than the man who had gossipped about his supposed dementia.

Gossip that may be true or false is sinful

I made a general enquiry about an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years to someone who had visited that part of regional NSW and met my friend. I was told that my friend ‘most probably’ had a serious drinking problem.

Gossip that may be true is sinful

I was once told, in strict confidence and for my prayers, before church (so it must have been okay), that a mutual acquaintance’s spouse had walked out on the marriage.

Hmm, I guess that’s really only one reason. Whichever way you dice or slice it, gossip is a sin.

I wasn’t in a pastoral relationship with any of the people whose troubles, or supposed troubles, I had been told about. If I had been, would I not have already known, and therefore, did I have need to be told in a casual conversation?

What deliciously decadent delight does a gossiper get out of tasty tit-bits of verbal transaction? What culinary contentment comes to the rumour recipient in covert kitchen conversations?

Gossip is so gastronomical. Never mind Master Chef. Step aside Nigela. It’s all over Oliver. I’ll have the gossip thanks, medium rare, with just a little slander on the side.

And yes, when gossip has so sated our system, it’s hard to say no to, “Would you like some lies with that?”

Three tests I’ve tucked away over time about gossip are:

  • If a person’s tongue is so loose about others to and with you, will their tongue be any less loose to and with others about you?
  • Would the person who is the subject of the conversation be comfortable to be overhearing what has just been said?
  • A person’s happiness or contentment quotient is inversely proportional to their propensity to gossip. Happy people hate gossip. Discontented people love a little dirt – just a morsel here and a tit-bit there.

Why is gossip so juicy? Have our lives become so limited, our discourse so drab and our passions so petty? Has it come to the point that, without whispers and rumours we may not have all that much to talk about?

Paul and James were only too aware of lust of our lips and the taming of the tongue:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).

But no man can tame the tongue. It is s restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8).

Gossip is such a perverted way of building ourselves up. Don’t take another morsel. Ask King Jesus to forgive us for our speech sins. Ask Him for the grace not to continue in (these) sins that grace may abound. And ask Him for the grace to tame our tongue so that we may build others up and not break them down.

Consuming cheese and chocolate in moderation, yes please. Gossip any which way? That’s pure poison.

Instead, let’s use our words to let grace flow.

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