Friday, June 16, 2006


"He who covers over a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends."
Proverbs 17.9

This is one of the verses I memorized maybe 25 years ago from the Navigators' Topical Memory System. It has been a good help to me when I'm tempted to mention something that I shouldn't.

I was listening to the radio when I heard J Vernon McGee talking about some terrible sin that was damaging the church. What was it, I wondered? Greed? Lust? Was it Satan's sin, pride?

No -- it was gossip he was talking about!

I don't have to tell you how or why broken confidences destroy relationships. But I did read something about gossip that helps explain why it's so attractive -- both interesting to hear and tempting to pass along.

The context, and I wish I could remember exactly where I read this, was that of adolescent girls. The point was that among teen-aged girls, information is a kind of social currency. If I want to show you that we're friends, I'll share some information with you. And if you want to show me, you'll tell me something as well. Hearing something makes us feel like part of the "in" group.

Now how is this different from Corporate America?

I think gossip can be tempting because by spreading it, I can show that I have more clout than you do. I am a source of information that you didn't know. If I do this enough, then I may object to your proposal based on "information that I, ahem, just can't share with you at this time."

Knowledge is power, and it can be shared (or displayed) in a spirit of generosity and inclusion, or with an aim to exercise power and lord it over someone. Gossip, like any other knowledge or information, can be used this way.

The trouble with gossip, though, is that whether or not it gets distorted, relationships can be damaged or destroyed.

How much better the information, the knowledge of the Kingdom of God! Take a look at this, which Jesus tells his disciples:

"For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."
Luke 10.25

So maybe the thing for me to remember is that when I want to share something, it should be something beneficial for them, something that will bring glory to God, instead of something that makes me look smarter or more spiritual or more "in the loop."


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