Irene, the church gossip, and self appointed monitor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several members did not approve of her extra curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.
She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old blue pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon. She emphatically told George, and several others, that everyone seeing it there would know exactly what he was doing.
George, a man of few words, stared at her for a few moments and just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend or deny! He said nothing!
Later that evening, George quietly parked his blue pickup in front of Irene’s house …. walked home …. and left it there….all night!
There’s an “Irene” in every congregation. A particular gossip spread a rumour about a minister friend of mine, to the effect that he danced naked at night – she’d seen him through his open window many times!
If I wanted some information disseminated, I would sometimes go to my “Irene” and swear her to secrecy not to pass on what I was about to tell her in confidence – in the sure and certain knowledge that it would be in circulation around the Parish in twenty-four hours.
Most times, however, gossip can be cruel and hurtful and many folk in my respective congregations have been desperately harmed by it.
The Bible admonishes against it it many places – “Google it” and you’ll find many verses condemning the slanderer and the gossip.
There’s an old story about a dreadful gossip who caused a lot of hurt and damage in his village, because of his evil tongue.
One day, however, he came to his senses, realizing the harm he’d inflicted on others over the years.
He went to the Village Elder – a sage and wise man – to ask what he could do. He was told to fill a sack with feathers and put one on every doorstep of every house wherein there had been someone he had slandered. And then was told to return to where the Sage lived.
This he did and went back as instructed.
“What now, O Wise One?” he asked the Elder.
The reply was simply, “Go, and gather up the feathers!”
“But…..but….they will have blown away and I won’t be able to get them back”
AND SO IT IS WITH UGLY, SPITEFUL & HURTFUL WORDS – we can’t take them back.
James 3 verse 6: 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.