"Gossip is a Stepchild"
Gossip masquerades as well meaning concern, righteous indignation and/or a helpful need to know excuse
to talk about the plight of others.  "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret"
(Prov. 11:13).  No worthy product (fruit) ever comes from gossiping, even though there is always an
implied "you'll be better off to know this"!  The snare laid by the gossiper is to convince the   unsuspecting
that they will profit from "knowing" that which is secret, previously unspoken, sinful or embarrassing to
someone else.  
Gossip only glorifies the gossiper at the expense of the one being gossiped   about and the
one listening
!  "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends"(Prov. 16:28).  
When gossip comes from persons in positions of leadership, it most often is taken as being 'the truth' and
not mere idle conversation.  Gossip in the Church not only demeans the object of the hearsay, but
depreciates the talebearer and brings haughtiness into the body-of-Christ at-large as well as in other
religious settings.
As the days we live in become more and more troubled we need to become increasingly mindful and
continually on guard against the age old deceptions which come from wicked intentions.  Gossip, malicious
rumor and divisive innuendo can spread through the church body like wildfire wounding many and casting
suspicion on the innocent; especially if those in leadership positions allow it (gossip) to continue unabated
and unchecked.   Gossip can become the opiate of the idle mind, the vindictive persona and/or the
individual who can only feel adequate while diminishing another person's character or reputation.
Gossiping can be an effort to solicit other would-be witnesses in order to confirm a suspicion or find that
second or third party who will speak against his neighbor ... "Every matter must be established by the
testimony of two or three witnesses" (2 Cor. 13:1).  Gossiping is one of the easiest and most frequently
committed human failings which takes place daily in the church body, as well as in all secular locales.
Proverbs 23, warns us against desiring delicacies, dainties, and other enticements offered by those with
hidden motives ... "for that food is deceptive" (Prov. 23:3).  "The words (
dainties) of a gossip are like
choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts" (Prov. 18:8 - italics added).  Once you become a
part of a gossip circle, be forewarned the circle always comes back around to its beginning and without
regard for 'whosoever' is in the circle ... the
spirit of gossip will quickly make the gossiper the object of
someone else's
gossip.   Each time we allow gossip to enter our heart and conversation, we unwittingly
open ourselves to the destructive force of this well established and self-indulgent spiritual stronghold.  
Gossip is the
stepchild of deception ... guard against its well thrown snare, for it can become an integral
part of one's social repartee, idle conversation and/or careless social bantering.
Gossip is like an arrow shot from the shadows of accusation with the archer hoping to remain anonymous
and still hit his mark.  Gossip is a subtle form of
one-upmanship and a product of cowardice.  The recent
"off-year" elections held in Texas, and nationally, reflect some of the most contentious, maligning and
political-party malcontent we have witnessed in the past two decades of electioneering.  Many of the TV
commercial advertisements were nothing less than 'paid media gossip' which is called "negative   
campaigning".  Let us not forget, "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment
for every careless word they have spoken" (Matt. 12:36).  Our cultural norms are deteriorating, our
boundaries for decency are blurring and our moral virtues are becoming 'relative' to the situation at hand.
This truly is a time and season to be ever so watchful over our own conduct and not knowingly contribute
to the cultural malaise.  What begins as a casual offhand comment can often become an uncontrollable
storm of accusation against another.  Begin today to not be a part of the diminishing of others through the
'tort of gossip' ... every thousand mile journey begins with the first step, lets take that step today and turn
away from the broad road of idle talebearing behavior paved by the gossiping tongue..

Jon D. Hannum, Ph.D.
Amen Ministries of Austin
amen_ministries@hotmail.com ------ aamen.org ------- P.O. Box 27683 Austin,   TX 78755