The Bible soundly condemns the wicked sin of talebearing: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD” (Lev 19: 16). In the New Testament, the apostle Peter warns us not to be “a busybody in other men’s matters” (I Pet 4: 15).
Talebearers are meddlers who go about spreading scandalous news and secrets of their neighbours. Sadly, even Christians are not spared from this malicious habit. How do people become habitual gossipers? In our article last week, we highlighted some causes: 1) Meddlesome nature; 2) Insecurity; 3) Self-righteousness. Today, we continue with the reasons why people indulge in this vicious act of talebearing:
The backslider is an unhappy and discontented person. He is spiritually unwell because he has shifted his focus from pleasing God and directed it to pleasing self: “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself” (Prov 14: 14). Having turned away from God, the heart of such a one is filled with his own fleshly desires. He develops a bitter and fault-finding spirit. Often, this spirit of discontent is manifested in judging, criticising and slandering others.
To curb this evil habit, we need to do a regular spiritual check. Daily self-examination not only convinces us about the wickedness of this sin but creates awareness of all our other sins as well. This, in turn, helps us to maintain a humble and gracious spirit in our dealings with others.
Gossip may be motivated by resentment and vindictiveness. When we are hurt or offended, we tend to hit back with malicious words. Has anyone wronged us? Let us leave the matter with the Lord Who knows how to vindicate us: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom 12: 19).
o Satan’s tool
The Devil is always on the look-out for disgruntled and vulnerable people whom he may use to discredit others. Satan is the father of lies (Jn 8: 44). In his dealings with Adam and Eve, he misrepresented the character of God by subtly distorting the truth. He implied that God was tyrannical and unfair to them: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3: 4-5). Since that first lie, Satan has continued to make use of willing lips to promote lies, spread rumours, plant doubt and taint
the character of others. May we never be his ready tool. Watch out, lest we be used by him to mar someone’s name and stir up negative feelings against the victim.
o An unregenerate heart
Our words reflect our spiritual state; ungoverned speech is a mark of an unconverted heart. The apostle James warns us against an unbridled tongue: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (Jas 1: 26).
Brethren, let us deal with this wicked sin of tale-bearing and evil speaking. Like the psalmist, let us pray: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my Strength, and my Redeemer” (Ps 19: 14). May we put away from us “a froward mouth, and perverse lips” (Prov 4: 24).