Editor's note: This article was originally published on ibelieve.com. It has been republished here with permission.
She leaned in close. Waiting. Listening. Juicy rumors of information whispered in her ear. Secrets. She now knew secrets. Words that seemed to hold some sort of power, swirling, twirling in her thoughts and heart. She suddenly felt important to be "in the know." After all, she had been entrusted, she held valuable information, now possessing knowledge that others did not yet know. But such intimate nuggets seemed too much to be contained in just one soul. Something inside propelled her on, it surely must be shared. She suddenly felt an urgency … to find someone else … to tell …
Gossip. This oh so tempting habit leads straight down a pathway of destruction, for way too many unfortunate souls.
There are some things in life that have become quite socially "acceptable" in our world; even though God makes very clear they are wrong. We tolerate them as being "not really quite as bad as other things." These "little things" often become a natural part of normal day to day, because, come on, "Everybody does it. Don't they?"
Talking about the latest scoop. "What she did yesterday," and "can you believe what I heard the other day about so and so," and "did you see what she was wearing," and "you know what happened don't you," and it goes on. It always goes on. Because there's never a parameter to make it stop. Once we start talking, or start listening, things always cycle downward. And soon, the constant news and babble is all so riveting, we can hardly wait for more. Choice morsels of gossip taste sweet to needy souls who strive to make themselves look better than they really are.
But it never works. In fact, quite the opposite. Because we can never be built up, by stooping so low that we demolish another. It leaves us feeling ... worse.
Here's truth in it all. What we say about others really says more about us than it says about them. Every. Single. Time.
And sometimes, we become so skilled at it; we even disguise it as a "prayer request." The ultimate blow. Attempting to cover hurtful words within the confines of false concern, "well, you know we need to pray for her because I heard she ..."
You might be wondering — what's the difference between "gossiping" and just sharing information when someone really may need prayer or the support from friends?
God describes a gossip as someone whose intent is wrong. Their heart is not for the other person, the words are not spoken from a desire to help or from a heart of love, it is only meant to tear down. We can try to "hide" our true intent, but God always sees, we can never really hide it from Him.
Second, the words
What flows from the heart of a gossip, the information being shared, is often something that would bring shame or hurt. It's negative. It's cruel. It focuses on someone's faults instead of speaking words of life from a heart that believes for the best. It refuses to have hope for change or healing in another person. It brings damage. It speaks death. May sound harsh, but it's the true reality, the scoop, on what it does.
But, there's hope. We don't have to live like that. We can choose differently. Fostering a community of support around one another builds up. It provides a safe place when we're hurting. It shields. It protects. No matter how much we have all failed, we can resist using judging words and instead speak love. We can distance ourselves from being willing participants. We can speak up on behalf of another. Whether or not those morsels of information are true is not what matters. Choosing not to share in hurtful information is the important thing. We all possess such great potential to influence others around us, in the right direction, and it's right on the tip of our tongues.
I wonder how the world might be different, if we chose to stop gossiping, and stopped lending our ear to all that mess, and we just started praying for one another.
That would be so powerful.
Words matter. He whispers to you today, life words that breathe truth, "You have the ability to impact this generation through the power of your words. Choose wisely."
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page or Twitter, for daily encouragement in living strong, hope-filled lives.