If you didn't think the psalmist was meddling to this point, he definitely dives into your personal life today. Isn't it funny that many churches like to talk about the "big" sins? We are all over abortion and homosexuality and adultery and smoking and drinking. But what about the others...the less obvious ones that are just as abhorrent to God? Gossip is one of those that comes to mind.
One reason no one wants to talk about gossip is that it's just not popular--you hurt everyone when you start preaching against it. That's right--everyone. Oh, we may couch the information in the form of a "prayer request" or the words of a "concerned friend" but the intentions of our heart will tell us something very different. Most of us fall prey to this game of words.
Gossip has hurt more people, ended more relationships and torn apart more churches than we care to admit. The problem lies with every one of us who have ever begun a sentence with the words, "I'm not supposed to say this..." or "Did you hear...".
The truth is, many times, the words can start out innocently enough or with good intentions. But, soon, we have slumped into negativity, criticism and cynicism.
...keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13 NIV
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. James 1:26 NIV
Here are two keys to help you with "keeping a tight reign on your tongue:"
- Ask yourself, would I share what I am about to say in front of that person if they were standing here? Are my words meant to heal, restore or build up? If you can't answer affirmatively to the two questions above, keep your mouth shut.
- Gossip has never happened with just one person. If someone starts to "share" with you, feel free to change the conversation, move on down the road or ask them politely to shut the heck up.
Words can kill spirit, mind and body. It's no wonder that God places such a heavy emphasis on our willingness to speak ONLY the truth in love. And, it's no wonder that David felt compelled to include this in his guidelines for Godliness. Maybe that's why years later James would feel led to write:
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:6 NIV
Let your tongue be filled with praise and honor today...lest you find yourself slipping into the trap that gossip provides.