There is a catchy little tune my son sings that he has picked up from Bible class called, “Gospel train”. It goes, “Gospel Train / Gospel Train / Everyone Aboard / Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and Baptized save the Lord.” (Tune: Jingle Bells) And then you repeat it. Unfortunately people aren’t nearly as likely to hop aboard that train as they are another very familiar train… The Gossip Train.
Gossip is like a wildfire, it is destructive and not productive; it spreads rapidly and wildly without control; it is fierce and unrelenting and never satisfied. In James 3:5-8 we are warned of the greatest fire-starter of them all… the tongue, “Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life...” How many forest fires have been started because people were irresponsible with matches, etc. Likewise, how many lives have been set on fire because people are irresponsible with their tongues; because people do not guard their tongues; they are careless of the consequences?
Gossip is a deadly and destructive sin. It is not something to be taken lightly or diminished in comparison to other sin. In Romans 1:29 it speaks that “gossips” are “worthy of death” (vs. 32). We see gossip has no place in the Christian’s life as Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification…” Isn’t gossip unwholesome and unholy? In vs. 31 it says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.” This is contrasted to the next verse, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” When we learn of someone being in sin; what is our reaction? Is it to get more facts, to be sorrowful and merciful toward the sinner and pray for them; or is it to pick up the phone and call someone else to tell them? We should think of what Jesus would do when we are in such circumstances; If He wouldn’t be picking up the phone and/or telling other people, then neither should we.
Gossip, in its sinful nature, is so cunning and deceitful that it can fool well-intentioned people with good hearts. There have been many times in my life where I have heard people gossiping, and they didn’t even realize they were doing it. As they were spreading the news about other people’s sin, sometimes they have done so with perhaps the intention of getting to pray for the sinner (Acts 8:24), or to help restore the sinner (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19-20), but they did not have all the information and/or facts. I, to my own shame, have been guilty of this before when I was younger. Sometimes, the sin may be of a very private nature, and the only reason it becomes so public is because of The Gossip Train. We should not rush to judgment, we should not rush to spread news (especially if it’s rumor), and we should not rush to get on The Gossip Train for fear we are missing out on being a part of the ride. Sin is horrible. We should have no interest in being its publicist, and we should have no interest in making it harder, for those caught in it, to deal with it.
Gossip is sin and it is disgraceful. Many times “brethren” will gossip of other brethren who are “in sin”; without ever realizing that they too are sinning by being a gossip. Why is one sin greater than another, or one sinner worse than another (James 2:10-12)? What we should be using our hearts, minds, and mouths for as Christians is to round folks up to get them on The Gospel Train; and waste no time with The Gossip Train. The final destination of The Gossip Train is, after all, the same destination as any who aren’t on The Gospel Train.