Gossip and Slander are two sly sins that make it through to the list of bad habits in the Bible. Have you ever experienced being on the bad end of these? Are you going to admit if you’re a usual participant in them? What’s so bad about gossip and slander?
I’ve been through a ton of pruning and stretching with my character these past few weeks. This is perhaps one of the experiences I have grown to know the most during this season of my life from the most unexpected people.
Slowly but Surely
Metal is probably one of the most common, tough building materials we have. You most probably will not be able to break one in two, or poke a hole in it with your bare hands. It’s absurd to think that you can shatter metal into pieces even if you slam it on hard, concretely cemented floor.
But what happens when you splash raw metal with water and leave it out on the open? Rust begins to form. It is harmless at first and can be brushed off easily. However if you leave the rust to its business, it will eat the metal up. No matter how strong a metal it is, it will slowly but surely become even more brittle than glass.
Gossip and Slander does not slam or break or poke a relationship. It grows little by little. Biding its time through the mouths of those who are willing to participate and ‘chip in‘ to whoever started the discussion. The thing about gossip and slander is that it is exceptionally intertwined with negative emotions.
This works especially with bitterness, hate, jealousy, despise and anger. Let these things sink in your heart and gossip and slander will seem like the juiciest meat you will ever get your teeth on.
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” – Proverbs 16:2
In short, people who start gossip and slander are more often than not, people who are driven by negative emotions.
A Question of Character
I used to think that gossip and slander is something that are for ignorant and cowardice people. People who cannot confront friends, parents, leaders, etc. But I have come to the recent understanding that it stems really from character and integrity.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” – Matthew 15:19
Even those people who are not ignorant and who are considered as men and women of courage fall into slander. Why?
Because it is so easy to participate in gossip and slander if you have no conscious effort in holding your ground against it.
And like how it will eat up relationships, gossip and slander will also eat up your character. It pushes you to embrace compromise. To look down on other people. To have a negative prejudicial notion of strangers. And as the saying goes: “Who are we to judge?”
“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” – James 4:11
Chances are, you’re not even sure if what you are slandering/gossiping about the person is even true. You just want to get the approval of your peers and inflict as much negativity to the person of your gossip/slander.
Letting Bad Have its Way
Often we are hearers of gossip and slander. It comes our way. While it is true that respect is a virtue highly valued by society, here is a virtue that should be regarded as even higher than that:
“Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:16
Taking action against sin. If you hear slander and gossip being spread out by your friend, your relative, your teammate, or what have you, take the time to set that person aside and ask them, “Why do you need to say these things against this person? Don’t you know that slander and gossip separates close friends?”
Zero Sum Game
In the end, gossip and slander will not lead to a desirable ending. If you have a problem with someone, man up. Take your problem directly to that person. Confront the conflict.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” – Matthew 18:15
This is the right way to end a conflict. Not to spread rumors, gossips and slander to people who you know will join your cause – however good it may make you feel.
Gossip and Slander is sin. Face the facts.
If you know in your heart that this is your struggle, or if you have been a recent participant/starter of it – end it. Take a stand.
It’s a zero-sum-game.
Wouldn’t you like to really “win” next time?
“…If they listen to you, you have won them over.”