Do You Talk Too Much?

A gossip betrays a confidence;
    so avoid anyone who talks too much.

(Proverbs 20:19)

A 1990’s comedy tv show use to have a skit with a woman who would talk about different situations and people. She would flatter people to their face and then look straight at the camera all serious, say critical things about them, and then end with “I ain’t one to gossip, so ya didn’t hear that from me.” Sometimes the thought of her saying it still makes me chuckle but then I remember the serious side of the coin.

Gossip comes in different forms such as rumors, slander, back-biting and even those juicy little tidbits “hey did you hear about Jane…what a shame…her husband left her for another woman although some say she was difficult to live with. Oh the poor dear! We need to keep her in our thoughts and prayers!” Whether we speak it or just listen to it…gossip is gossip.

James 3:5-8 states the following:

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

The tongue is not tameable. No matter how hard we may try, once the tongue starts up it can be difficult to stop. We have to give careful consideration to the words we say and how we say it. You may be talking to just one person, but that one person will talk to another person and so on and so on. It doesn’t matter how many times you say “keep it between us” or “don’t say anything”, someone is bound to have a slip of the tongue.

Does this mean we can never talk about anyone? No, that’s pretty impossible. But what it does mean is we must think about why we are sharing information about someone. Is it for counseling purposes or to seek advice on a situation you need to resolve? Is it a concern for someone’s safety? Is this person causing problems and you must relay info to a boss, a spouse or a pastor to fix the problem? These, and other examples, are within reason to speak about a person or situation. The problem is when it has nothing to do with concern for that person but has much to do with the simple desire to hear the scoop or spread the word. We must realize our words can either curse or bless as it states in James 3:9-10:

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

In just a few moments our words can destroy a family, a business, a marriage or a friendship. It can prohibit a person from receiving a job that they desperately need especially when one is passing on old news or hearsay. It can tear down the reputation of a person or place that has been trying to build themselves back up from an unfortunate situation.

James calls the tongue “a restless evil, full of deadly poison“. What does poison do? The amount of poison received can affect a person from minor discomfort to long term damage and pain, and worst case…death. It can cause weakness or for one to think unclearly. When we spread gossip or talk about others or their situations for no reason, we are spreading poison to the person we are talking to. That “poison” can then cause someone to think differently about another person or situation without even knowing if what they are hearing is truth, hearsay, or a lie. Once they are poisoned, they can spread more poison to others. Eventually that poison gets back to the person that is being talked about and can cause great harm to that person and their family or business.

In 2 Corinthians 12:20, Paul is very concerned about the church and lists gossip as one of the sins he fears he will find there:

“For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”

We must make every effort to turn away from gossip whenever possible, realizing the harm it can do. If someone tries to pass it on to us, we must make it clear that we do not want to hear it. We must also have a few thoughts in mind. 1. If this person is talking about someone else, will they also be talking about me? 2. Would I want to be talked about? 3. What harm or damage will this cause especially if it’s found out.

When we take the time to consider these thoughts, it may make turning gossip away much easier.

Lord, your Word states that the tongue is not tameable, so I ask that you take control of my words and let nothing come out of my mouth that may harm or damage another person. When I am faced with hearing gossip or contemplating spreading information to others that may cause harm, give me the strength to stop it before it begins. Help me to look at the situation through your eyes and not my own fleshly eyes. Bring your scriptures to my mind so I can turn away from it more easily. I ask this in the name of Jesus…Amen.