gos·sip /ˈɡäsəp/ noun:Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
One of the hardest things to recognize is gossip. Should be easy, yet I am often caught in the trap of talking about others, sometimes out of malice sometimes out of feigned concern. Talking about another person when you absolutely know the facts can be bad enough, but talking about another with unsubstantiated or second knowledge is perhaps the worst.
And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies Matthew 15:16-19 KJV
Usually we gossip not to lift up others, but to lift up ourselves. We can talk of others about how so and so did such and such. It is not talk painted with the brush of kindness, but with the brush of anger, self righteousness, and superiority.
“Gossip barbed with our anger, a polite form of murder by character assassination, has its satisfactions for us, too. Here we are not trying to help those we criticize; we are trying to proclaim our own righteousness.” From the book Daily Reflections.
For some reason us humans think that taking about others is a great way to start or have a conversation. Even though we may think we are discussing someone with a pure heart or in my case trying to get a perspective so I can understand, it is still gossip. If you are not speaking with kindness and love then speak not at all.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 KJV
I was told once that those who talk about others will talk about you when you are not there. This is very true, yet the hardest thing for me to do is mind my own business. Luckily I am a work in progress and I am still learning. My favorite poem is called silver boxes by Michael Bright and it reminds me (when I read it) to be edifying and lift those up around.
“My words were harsh and hasty
And they came without a thought.
Then I saw the pain and anguish
That my bitter words had brought.
Bitter words that I had spoken
Made me think back through the past;
Of how many times I’d uttered
Biting words whose pain would last.
Then I wondered of the people
I had hurt by things I’d said;
All the ones I had discouraged
When I didn’t use my head.
Then I thought about my own life.
Of painful words I’ve heard;
And of the times I’d been discouraged
By a sharp and cruel word.
And now clearly I remember
All the things I might have done;
But, by a word I was discouraged
And they never were begun.
Lord, help my words be silver boxes.
Neatly wrapped up with a bow;
That I give to all so freely,
As through each day I gladly go.
Silver boxes fill of treasure,
Precious gifts from God above;
That all the people I encounter
Might have a box of God’s own love.”