Four preachers met for a friendly gathering. During the conversation one preacher said, “Our people come to us and pour out their hearts, confess certain sins, and tell us their needs. Let’s do the same. After all, confession is good for the soul.” In due time all agreed. One confessed he liked to go to movies and would sneak off when away from his church. The second confessed that he liked to smoke cigars and the third one confessed that he liked to gamble with playing cards. When it came to the fourth one, he wouldn’t confess. The others pressed him saying, “Come now, we confessed ours. What is your secret vice?” Finally he answered, “It is gossip and I can hardly wait to get out of here!”[restrict]
In a small town church, a preacher stood up and bellowed, “Gossip is a devil’s tongue!” He went on for another 20 minutes reading Scriptures, quoting Augustine and Martin Luther. The congregation were frightened that fire and brimstone would come through the roof at any moment so they bowed in silence. “In closing,” he said, “Let’s all stand and sing Hymn No. 324.” They began to sing loud and strong, “I love to tell the story….” In midway the pastor raised his hand to stop the singing and said. “If you want to gossip – here’s something to talk about. Talk about Jesus and his love. Stop talking about me and my wife, or so and so is sleeping with so and so.” Then he began to laugh out loud tickling the whole congregation into a nervous laughter. Later his wife asked why he was acting so crazy to which he replied, “I had to lighten it up a little so I could breath. I was so afraid God will pitchfork me to hell.”
In the past few weeks, I listened to gossip. I fed into it by agreeing with my own tidbits. The problem was it was kinda fun… even though I knew it was bad. I realized I’ve been hearing the same thing about the same people for the past weeks. Why so much hate? Michael O’Brien describes bitterness and hatred (I’m paraphrasing) “Like a demon gnawing at his own bone rotting with gangrene.” Suddenly, the old Chinese proverb hit me hard like a rock: “He who gossips with you, gossips about you.” It’s time to change course. It’s time to shut up and stop feeding into this asinine behavior.
One of the crucial essences of gossip is it makes us feel superior. Hemingway said, “There’s nothing noble about being superior to your fellowmen. True nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Dallas Willard writes, “The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon. It is in our thoughts that the first movements toward the renovation of the heart occur. Thoughts are the place where we can and must begin to change… Thoughts determine the orientation of everything we do and evoke the feelings that frame our world and motivate our actions. Interestingly, you can’t evoke thoughts by feeling a certain way. However, we can evoke—and to some degree control—our feelings by directing our thoughts. [/restrict]