When a brother or sister in Christ tells you something in confidence, make sure it goes no further.
Gossip is a gallow that kills morale, trust and love.
Some fancy themselves on being the local church’s reporter! They always have the scoop and they’re ready share what they’ve heard through the grapevine or straight from the horses’ mouth. But simple fact of the matter is – God despises the grapevine of gossip that betrays trust and the talker who destroys fellowship amongst his people (Proverbs 6:16-19).
The church doesn’t need any TMZs! So if that’s what we’re in the business of listening to other’s problems for, then wisdom says we better shut down the shop before we sell a multitude of things that cannot be bought back.
“A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” (Proverbs 11:13)
I can’t say the thought is original to me, but it’s more than worth passing along:
You never saw a fish on the wall with its mouth shut.
It think that’s one good example on the wisdom of holding our tongue when the time calls for it.
“He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Proverbs 13:3)
A children’s song reminds the kids to be careful where they let their little feet go, what they let their little hands do, what they let their little ears hear, their little eyes see, and their little mouth say. The last is especially important as they learn to fine-tune their ever-expanding vocabulary.
But what about those of us whose mouths that are just a little bigger? You know, those of us who know exactly what the word means every time we say it! Well, there are songs such as “Angry Words” that definitely bring the point home. But, at least to me, one good way to remember what our words sound like to ears other than our own is to imagine what they would sound like if little mouths were saying them.
To some, this technique may sound childish, but honestly, what’s more childish: adult language, or trying to avoid the big trouble that our big mouth can get us into?
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” (James 1:26)
There are times when cultural “stars” of varying levels want to speak to reporters but they want to speak “off the record”. The idea is that they want their words to be heard, but they don’t want to be seen as the source. They want to get people talking, but they want people talking about them.
There are several reasons why someone living in the cultural arena would want their words to remain anonymous. One is that they do not want to deal with the negative effect of the repercussions, and another is that they may want to benefit from positive effect of the repercussions without it being obvious. Regardless of the situation the “stars” of the world find themselves in, the “stars” of the church must remember that there is never a time when people speak off the record.
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)
“Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:3)
James merely says that the judgment of teachers will be especially strict because greater responsibility rests on teachers. The reason for this is that the teacher’s essential instrument – the tongue – which is so easily misused, has great influence.
Donald W. Burdick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: James, p. 186
I guess we’re assuming a fresh start, but still knowing what we know now and the maturity we’ve developed along the way still intact. If that’s the case here’s the biggest thing I would do.
I would keep a tighter rein on my tongue. There’s a number of specific places in my past that are embarrassing as I think on them now.
I’m grateful to those in my life who have demonstrated control over this little troublemaker. I’m glad they set an example, not only in deed, but in word as well.