The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body. Proverbs 18:8
Gossip is a sin that is too often ignored in the church. We think it is one of those things that is out there - and it will continue to be out there. Many see it almost as a victimless act - but the proverb today lets us know that even if everything looks OK on the outside of this sin - the inner workings of it are very dangerous.
The "whisperer" is the gossip. The Hebrew word means one who gossips - but does so by murmuring and complaining. It actually means to excessively complain - and the word is used in passages that create serious relational problems between men - and between man and God. It is combined with other sins like complaining, criticism, faultfinding, and causing trouble. When God experienced these things with Israel in the wilderness in the book of Numbers, He had very strong reactions against it. No matter how we define gossip and a complaining, murmuring spirit - God defines it as very serious wickedness. He deals with this sin very severely.
Why is God so opposed to this particular sin? It is because when someone hears gossip and complaining, it is like a dainty morsel to them. Think of gossip like you would your worst craving for a food you know you should not eat. For me this would be homemade chocolate chip cookies. I can resist these for a time - but the problem is that being my version of "dainty morsels" - my ability to resist is limited. Now, if someone set out broccoli puffs, the ability to resist is not a matter of power - it is a matter of not really wanting them in the first place. Thus, some sins are dangerous because of what they present as well as what they promote. Gossip is one of these. Consider your own response to someone who says, "Did you hear about so and so?" Imagine how difficult it is to resist statements like, "I can't believe what I heard the other day about this person." These kind o statements are very difficult to resist. Consider also the gossip magazines that are at the check-out lines at your local grocery store. Why are they so tempting - and why do they sell - even though many times what they say is either completely false - or an exaggeration of the truth. It is because the thought of knowing something about someone else that is supposed to be secret is something that is very difficult to resist.
The other reason that this sin is so dangerous is that when we hear these things - Scritpure tells us that they go into the "innermost parts of the body." The literal Hebrew says that these statements go to the chambers of the belly. That is why they are dangerous and difficult to control. These statements of gossip are embedding themselves into the innermost part of our being. We tend to remember and focus on the complaints, the gripes, the criticism and fault-finding that others throw out at us. We look at the person against whom such criticism is leveled with a jaded eye after hearing these things. They color how we see them and how we respond to them - and usually we respond negatively after hearing such things. Unfortunately this is the case whether such things are true or false. That is why the very word used for whisperer here is identified with those who cause relational troubles between people.
So how do we deal with this sin - in ourselves and in others. First of all we refuse to participate in gossip ourselves. One principle that is helpful is to use any information we have about others that could be the source of gossip and criticism as fuel for intercessory prayer rather than gossip. When we do this we will insure that we only eat our dainty morsels in the presence of God. There we take such information and use it in mercy - to pray for someone. We never use it for judgment - to injure them with words that we speak to others. Secondly we refuse to listen to gossip from others. Elsewhere in Proverbs we read that an angry countenance will send away a backbiting tongue. Two things I try to do personally when gossip comes my way is to first say that I would prefer not hearing it. When someone seems to want to persist, I then tell them I will listen - but only for the purpose of getting them together with the person with whom they have a problem within a couple of weeks. This has led to two things. It has led to people stopping the gossip from being spoken - and it when someone continues - it has led to me becoming a peacemaker between them and the person with whom they are offended. Oh, and as people have gossipped about how I deal with gossip - it has led to the gossips avoiding me like the plague.
Don't let the dainty morsels of gossip lodge themselves into your spirit. Refuse to hear it - and if someone persists take the role of a peacemaker. You will be doing yourself a favor first of all - and secondly, you will be causing blessing to come to the body of Christ as you do your part to stop this sin in its tracks when it seeks to come into your fellowship and divide the saints.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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