Seen on a Church Sign
What’s the Harm, Anyway?
In our previous post, we discussed the fact that gossip is a sin. Like any sin, it is equal in severity to any other sin. The basic premise being that any sin, small or large, separates us from a just and holy God just as much as any other sin. I think we also understand that, while in that sense all sins are equal that some of our sins do have more serious impact on the people and the world around us. Some sins compound themselves, more or less. That seems to be the point at which we begin to minimize the sin of gossip, because in our efforts to hold on to it, we find ways to reduce the seriousness of it by concluding it “really isn’t that bad”, and “Oh, that’s really not hurting anybody.”
Is that true? Is gossip a harmless sin? Let’s dig into that a little bit.
Sin hurts God. I know we keep going back to that, but that is ultimately the place we should always go. I think taking a look at one of the most notorious episodes of sin in the Bible might help us understand this better. That would be the sin of David and his dalliance with Bathsheba. It simply can’t be denied that many, many people were harmed by this particular episode. Bathsheeba was likely hurt by this episode, as she lost a husband and a child during the course of it. Uriah, her husband was certainly hurt considering he lost his very life as a result. Although we don’t have time to really cover it here, the case is very strong that David’s actions set in motion events within his own family that ultimately destroyed the nation of Israel. Many, many people were harmed by David’s actions.
Of course, we are all familiar with Psalm 51, David’s famous prayer of repentance for his great sin. We aren’t studying that in and of itself, but one thing is very notable in David’s prayer. Now, we don’t know if David ever sought forgiveness from those he had harmed, but he certainly never addressed that in his prayer, as he said the following:
Psalm 51:3,4 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
First and foremost, our sins always hurt God, and are against God.
Great you say, our sin hurts God. But other than that, a little gossiping doesn’t really hurt anybody does it?
Gossip hurts the gossiper. That would be you and I. Gossip is a condition of the heart, and it is sin. Like any sin against God we commit, sin destroys our fellowship with God. We cannot be walking in step with God, if we are living in sin. If we are habitually gossiping, we are living in sin. Therefore we will not have an intimate relationship with Him.
Gossip destroys friendships.
Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Gossip undermines church leadership. How many of us have Pastor, Sunday School teacher, or Choir Director for Sunday dinner?
Gossip destroys unity in our local bodies of believers. Gossip does not edify. Anything that does not edify, destroys. Gossip destroys trust among groups of people. If I tell you things that I should not share, of course you will be wondering what I later say about you and to whom.
Gossip creates an unsafe place for people to be. Our churches should be safe places of love and comfort. The only thing uncomfortable anyone should ever feel in our churches is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. How many people leave a body of believers, or never become part of one because of fear about what people are saying?
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
My brothers and sisters, this should not be
Next: How can we stop gossip?