10/18/2010

Gossip Goes Down Deeper than a Juicy Steak (Proverbs 18:8)

Gossip: Proverbs 18:8 says, "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts." Gossip is so deadly because people love to hear it and to share it. Gossip has a voracious appetite. It tastes so good going down, but it has no nutrition in it. It's like ingesting or spreading a spiritual poison that strikes at the very core of one's being.

Why do we gossip? What does gossip do? What's wrong with gossip? What can we do?

Gossip, and his twin Slander, seems irresistible because it empowers and exalts the gossiper by demeaning the one gossiped about.

Gossip and innuendo invariably feeds our pride and ego by giving us a sense of power and superiority--at someone else's expense. Who can resist doing this?

To the Christian, gossip doesn't seem serious or even bad or wrong, unlike murder or adultery, but...
  • ...in the Bible, a sin is a sin, and there are no greater or lesser degrees of sinfulness.
  • There are no good outcomes of gossip, only destructive consequences (Prov 18:6-9,19,21), even in the church. How many churches have split, become divided or greatly weakened by spreading gossip and slander, instead of speaking to one another face to face with gentleness and respect, with honesty, openness and transparency!
  • Pray that God give us grace to not gossip, and that our words may be thoughtful, timely, and true.
Isolation: Proverbs 18:1 says, "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment." "Isolate" translates a Hebrew word that refers to someone who is either reclusive or divisive. Either way, antisocial tendencies seem to be implied (ESV Study Bible). We think of ourselves as socially cool, and not at all like the Unabomber. But I think that we isolate ourselves if we only gather together with our own clique, such as our family and close friends, our sports buddies, or even our own local church community. Then our mindset becomes shaped by the thoughts and sentiment of our "exclusive in group." But Jesus was always incarnational, and he always "hung out" with those whom the Pharisees hated. The Pharisees was "against sound judgment" because they isolated themselves by only being among themselves.

Prov 18:9-12 imply that riches can give a false sense of security that leads to laziness, pride, and a downfall, but that humility and the fear of God exalt people.

Answer Before ListeningHe who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame (Prov. 18:13). Think of those exasperating, aggressive conversationalists who rarely let you finish a sentence or a thought before they interject their own viewpoint. How much worse is the situation when neither side in a dispute really listens to the other side. In rare cases, of course, there is literally nothing to be said in favor of one particular side. But almost always there is at least something to be said for a contrary position, even if on balance it is not all that defensible. But how can you find out if you do not really listen? How can you hope to convince the other party of what you are saying if you cannot give that party the grace of courteous listening? In most disputes, tensions will improve if one party takes the initiative to lower the volume, slow the pace, cool the rhetoric, and humbly try to listen and discover exactly what the other side is saying.

Proverbs 18 Daily Devotional Don Carson

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