The Dangers of Gossip

An old proverb relates the story of a person who repeated gossip—some rumor about a neighbor. Soon, the whole community had heard the rumor. Later, the person who spread the gossip learned that the rumor was untrue. The person was very sorry and went to an elder in the community who had a reputation for great wisdom to seek advice. The elder told the person, “Go to your home and take a feather pillow outside. Rip it open and scatter the feathers, then return to me tomorrow.” The person did as the elder had instructed. The next day, the person visited the elder. The elder said, “Go and collect the feathers you scattered yesterday and bring them back to me.” The person went home and searched for the feathers, but the wind had carried them all away. The person returned to the elder and said, “I could find none of the feathers I scattered yesterday.” “You see,” said the elder, “it’s easy to scatter the feathers but impossible to get them back.” So it is with gossip; it doesn’t take much to spread hurtful words, but once you do, you can never completely undo the damage.

  The dictionary defines the word gossip as a rumor or report of intimate nature. When applied to describe a person, the word means one who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others. Gossip is one of those areas of the Christian life that is so important for us to work to restrain—because of the potential damage it causes—but so difficult for many of us to get under control. It is easy for us—within the Christian community—to gossip about others, often within our own community of faith, because we do so under the banner of “sharing”. We “share” with others about a friend’s “problem” because we want others to pray for them. Wink. Wink. The reality is, however, that it’s just plain gossip. Gossip feels good. It feels good to know something about someone else and to share that something with another. Yet, even under the best of motives, “sharing” easily turns into “gossip” and we do damage that we can’t completely undo.

Gossip is a bad thing when it is not true or can harm someone else in a bad way. Can we gossip, sure! But not if someone gets hurt by it. As it says in the short story, you can gossip about everything but you can't take the words you said once you open your mouth.

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