The words of a person’s mouth are like deep waters.
The fountain of wisdom is an overflowing stream.
The words of a gossip are swallowed greedily,
and they go down into a person’s innermost being. (Proverbs 18:4, 8 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 18:1-8 GW)
Wise people tend to be more careful with their words than many of us. They use less words but say more when they do speak.
Wisdom and intelligence aren’t the same. A person can be quite intelligent but lack wisdom. Their understanding is limited by their lack of discretion, which is often tied to their character.
Wise people are also careful about the words they take in and accept. They don’t swallow everything they hear because they have discernment.
Even a foolish person—someone who lacks discretion and discernment—can seem wise when they keep their mouth shut (Prov 17:28). But alas, they still aren’t wise because of their character.
These verses have great picture words. The wise person is associated with grand images—deep waters, a fountain and an overflowing stream. These are noble images.
When you see a beautiful mountain stream or a fountain—whether manmade or natural—it commands respect and a sense of fulfillment, even awe. These are the images given of a wise person with their wise words.
What a stark contrast the wise person is to those who spread gossip! Not only the one who speaks gossip but those who listen to it.
Think about how prevalent gossip is in some form or another in our American culture. It permeates social media like a global epidemic and feeds off half-truths, lies, misinterpretations, and opinions spawned by various media sources including the internet.
What amazes me is how easily these tidbits of supposed news are accepted without reservation—especially when it fits our personal perceptions and opinions.
The saddest predicament is how rampant gossip is within churches. This should not be so and there’s no excuse for its existence or for tolerance of it within a church.
As a pastor of a local church in a fairly small town, I can attest to the prevalent and destructive nature of gossip.
It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland who drinks a bottle labeled “Drink Me” and eats a cake marked “Eat Me.” The consequences of her drinking and eating these were beyond her control.
This illustrates the tragic ripple effect of spreading and listening to gossip. Even when the truth is made known that dispels the focus and topic of who and what’s gossiped about—the gossip lingers on.
Gossip is swallowed greedily and goes deep into a person’s innermost being.
What can you or I do to prevent being a gossip or a receiver of gossip? Here’s some simple advice I saw recently—
If you’re talking negatively about someone, or if you’re listening to negative talk about someone, and the words aren’t helping solve the problem… you’re gossiping. (https://goo.gl/epx1fb)
When we are with people who value wisdom, we’re more likely to become like them. When we hang around with those who cultivate and trade gossip—well, we’ll become more like them.
The choice is ours—everyday and throughout each day—be careful what you listen to and swallow!
What do you want to be known for—wisdom or gossip? They have opposite origins and outcomes. This requires daily discernment and discretion, if we don’t want to swallow everything we hear!
Ask God for discernment when hearing or considering something passed on to you. Ask the Lord to develop a sense of godly discretion and a love of wisdom in your heart and mind, and the discipline and willingness to pursue these daily.
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