Misusing the Tongue

Leviticus 19:16 – Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

It has been said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds talk about events, but small minds gossip about people.” The Bible is full of warnings against misusing the tongue; yet it is a sin of which most of us are guilty.

Years ago a Church newspaper carried a story about a woman in a small town who was quite a gossip. One day on vacation she visited the offices of the Chicago Daily News. She was wearing a white dress and inadvertently leaned against the wall where several copies of the paper where hanging to dry. It was a hot, humid day, and she was unaware that some of the print came off on the back of her dress. Later, as she walked down the street, she was conscious of giggling and tittering whenever anyone came near her. When she reached the place where her husband awaited her, she asked if there was anything on her back that should not be there. As she turned around he read the black letters: Daily News. Recognizing the appropriateness of the words, he could not repress an inward smile but answered truthfully, “No, Dear, there’s nothing on your back that doesn’t belong there.”

As Christians, let it never be said of us that we are “gossips” or “walking newspapers,” constantly advertising the faults of others. Folks who like to talk critically about their neighbors usually do so to direct attention away from their own glaring sins and shortcomings.

Conscious of the universal sin of gossiping, may we pray with the Psalmist, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Ps. 141:3).