The Poison of Gossip
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body. - Proverbs 18:8
There's a woman at work that I barely know. In fact, I don't know her at all. I've never talked to her, and honestly, I barely notice her. I see her in the cafeteria, I see her in the halls. But just like the sensation that occurs when you "wake up" and realize you've just driven miles without even realizing it,so it is with her: "Yes, I saw her, but did I?"
That changed recently.
Someone made a comment about this woman, a slight remark; nothing really notable. Just a comment about her work ethic and her ability to understand English. It wasn't mean-spirited, it wasn't revealing any great sin like adultery, murder, or addiction. Just a simple, surely not ill-intentioned comment. But words are more powerful than you may think.
You see, the next time I saw that woman, I did notice her. I couldn't help but notice her. She had been flagged; labeled by the careless words spoken about her. I saw her, the lazy woman who didn't understand English. Now I recognized her. "She's the one that ..." Because of a few harmless sounding words.
But no matter how harmless the words you speak may seem, if they are negative, they will stick. It's human nature. Spill a drop of coffee on a white shirt, and the drop of coffee stands out. We don't notice the sea of white; the 99.98% of clean. We notice the .02% of stain.
Gossip produces debt; debt for the person being talked about. So it is with negative words - they run up a charge on the person being talked about, putting them in debt in our eyes. How? Because now, to shed their label, the person must prove they are not what they've been labelled. They must perform. They must work off their debt. Only then will we see them without thought to the words spoken over them. What an unfair debt!
So how do we battle this debt; keep ourselves free from it?
Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Perhaps there are people in your life who are in debt to you because of the words spoken over them or about them. I would encourage you to release them from their debt right now. Wipe their slate clean in your eyes; give them a clean bill of health and forgive their debt. May it be as if those negative words never tingled your ears and entered your thoughts. May they be without debt in your sight.
Take a stand against this insidious sin. The next time the desert tray of tasty morsels of gossip is passed to you, put your hand up and wave it on. Simply say, "No thank you, I'm on a diet."