Without wood a fire goes out,
and without gossip a quarrel dies down.
⌊As⌋ charcoal fuels burning coals and wood fuels fire,
so a quarrelsome person fuels a dispute.
The words of a gossip are swallowed greedily,
and they go down into a person’s innermost being. (Proverbs 26:20-22 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 26:13-28 GW)
Gossip is disruptive talk and it soon becomes corrosive to us. It’s seductive yet destructive.
Gossip—by nature—is in reference to someone other than the people engaged in either speaking or listening to the gossip. It’s seductive and destructive because it’s passing on personal, intimate, or sensational information about someone else at their expense.
Think of how many TV shows, IG and FB posts, print and online magazines—across all forms of media—focus on inside scoops and dirt about celebrities, athletes, or even ordinary people. It’s mass voyeurism—a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous.
Why are we so consumed with knowing all this personal information about everybody else?
Perhaps it’s a bit of FOMO. Somehow, missing out on what others may know matters to us. But think how long you or I have lived without knowing whatever it is we think we’re missing out on. In the end, it’s extraneous info—useless and unnecessary.
Darker and deeper
I think the reason we’re seduced by gossip goes deeper than that. It’s a lot darker and more destructive. Consider what these few verses tell us.
Without gossip a quarrel dies down. Just as a fire needs combustible material (wood) to keep burning, gossip fuels quarrels and stirs up strife and grief. Gossip can be defined as a rumor or report.
Every time there’s breaking news all sorts of rumors and reports begin to circulate. Often, they’re unsubstantiated but they keep cropping up and circulating even after the truth dispels them. Some people still say the holocaust or the 9-11 terror attacks were hoaxes. But then, some people still think the earth is flat.
A quarrelsome person is no different. Long after an argument is settled or dismissed, a quarrelsome person finds a way to keep it going. This is seen everyday on news talk shows—regardless of your political bent—on the Twitter-sphere, not to mention FaceBook…sigh.
A pastor friend has posted the following for over 80 days straight—
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (2 Tim 2:23)
We would all do well to heed this admonition.
Perhaps the darkest side of gossip is when it’s …swallowed greedily … into a person’s innermost being. This unneeded and destructive personal info gets buried in our hearts and corrupts us.
It will cause us to see certain people in a bad light—destroying them in our eyes and corrupting us like cancer eating away at whatever is good and healthy in us.
Why do we want to find fault or place blame? Somehow we’re deceived into thinking it makes us better than others. It doesn’t. It never will. When we put others down, it doesn’t elevate us, it does the opposite. But we’ve been doing this since the beginning of time.
What can we do to stop swallowing this verbal junk food?
Refuse to listen or believe gossip. Instead, lay whatever horrid or sordid thing is said, lay it at the feet of the Lord and leave it there in prayer. As it says in more than one place—
Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. (Prov 10:12 NIV) [also see– Prov 17:9 and 1 Peter 4:8]
It’s obvious what we need to do about generating gossip and quarrels. Shut our mouths. Just. Don’t. Pass. It. On. It’s really that simple. And, oh yeah—love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends (Prov 17:9 NIV).
The reason we’re seduced by gossip goes deeper and is darker and more destructive than just a few words. It’s passed on at the expense of others and corrupts us like cancer eating away at whatever is good and healthy in us.
If you find it too easy to listen to gossip and pass it on, ask God’s help to repent of this. Ask the Lord to help you shut your ears to gossip and quarreling, and to shun such corrosive and destructive thoughts and words.
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