Proverbs 16:28, “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends”
When you were young did you ever play the game called "telephone"? You sit in a circle with a group of people and one person whispers a phrase to the person next to him or her. Then, each person keeps whispering the phrase around the circle until it reaches the last person, who repeats the whispered statement aloud. What started out, as "Pizza tastes great" can end up, as "Pete's a great ape!” It's funny to laugh at how twisted the sentence became as it was passed around. My friend, gossip can also work the same way, but it's not so funny. In fact, it can be very down right hurtful and damaging to the individual. Have you ever gossiped about someone else? Or maybe you had been the one gossiped about? If so, take note of this very sobering illustration concerning one who gossips.
Nancy had repeated some juicy gossip she had heard concerning her next door neighbor. Within a few days, the whole community knew the story. The person it concerned was deeply hurt and offended. Later in the week Nancy learned that the gossip she had spread was entirely false. She was very sorry and went to a wise old man to find out what she could do to repair the damage. “Go to the marketplace," he said, "and purchase a chicken, and have it killed. Then on your way home, pluck its feathers and drop them one by one along the road." Although surprised by this advice, Nancy did what she was told. The next day the wise man said, "Now, go and collect all those feathers you dropped yesterday and bring them back to me.” Well Nancy followed the same road, but to her dismay, the wind had blown all the feathers away. After searching for hours, she returned with only three feathers in her hand. "You see," the old man said, "It's easy to drop them, but it’s impossible to get them all back. So, my friend and brethren, it’s the same with gossip. It doesn't take much to spread a false rumor, but once it’s done you can never completely undo the wrong."
So, what should we do when we hear gossip? This past summer while driving to our vacation hotel, I passed a sign that warned me about littering the highway. It said, “$100 fine for throwing litter on the highway". Soon I saw another sign that sated, “Litter Barrel, one mile ahead. Then just a short time later, I passed a garbage truck on its way to the disposal dump. I submit to you that there are only three things you can do with garbage:
(1) You can COLLECT it.
(2) SCATTER it, or
(3) DISPOSE of it.
We must face the realization that many people are garbage collectors, who are always listening for some choice bit of juicy gossip. If they were only collectors, it wouldn't be so serious. However, like the illustration at the beginning of this devotional, these collectors are often litterbugs, and insist on scattering it all along life’s highway. Thank God, there are also those who know how to dispose of gossip. They put the refuse where it belongs, in the “litter barrel” of forgetfulness. James 4:11 tell us, “Do not speak evil of one another.” If you cannot say something helpful, do not say anything. If you hear a damaging rumor, immediately put it in the “litter bag.” Then breathe a prayer for the person being talked about, as well as for the one who told you. Don’t spread gossip, but dispose of it by silence. Gossip soon dies if it isn't repeated. So, whenever we are tempted to pass along a negative word about someone, even if it is true, let’s seek God’s help in putting the brakes on gossip. Instead, let us use our words to strengthen, uplift and encourage one another. Today you will find plenty of garbage in the form of gossip. So, what will you do with it?
(1) Will you collect it?
(2) Will you scatter it? or
(3) Will you dispose of it by silence?