Gossips And BusybodiesSeries: The Way Of Salvation
GOSSIPS AND BUSYBODIES
Sermon By Terry Siverd
Cortland Church of Christ / February 09, 2020
Some sins have become watered-down in our minds - - their ugliness is either overlooked or soft-pedaled.
In his book, “Little Foxes That Spoil The Vines” - - a brief but incisive treatise from the 1960's, W.B.J. Martin writes:
Seeing that we spend so much of our time talking - - it is odd that we hear so few sermons on the discipline of the tongue.
In Col.3:5-9, the apostle Paul writes - -
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of things that the wrath of God will come,
and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside:
anger, wrath, malice, SLANDER AND ABUSIVE SPEECH from your mouth. Do not lie to one another...
We're planning to extend our study of the SINS OF THE TONGUE with next Sunday's sermon,
but for this morning I want to zero in one in particular: the sin of GOSSIP.
We have visited this Col.3:5f text (along with Gal.5:19ff) multiple times in this series.
I'm hoping that these words (New Testament Thou shalt nots) will become etched in our minds.
It would be wonderful if we would memorize these texts, but perhaps we can capture them by means of osmosis.
Hearing these admonitions over and over again will help to plant them in our hearts.
In Col.3:8b Paul specifies the sins of slander and abusive speech.
Gossip surely dwells under the broad canopy of abusive speech.
And while all gossip is not necessarily slanderous, some gossip can be both abusive and slanderous.
In 1Tim.3:11, Paul magnifies the sin of gossip by calling it malicious. Gossip is seldom ever harmless.
More often than not, gossip has a defamatory or hurtful intent that accompanies it.
If you are like me, every once in a while we are especially struck (even startled) by the lists of sins that we encounter
in the Scriptures. It is striking to notice how some so-called “small sins” are listed side-by-side with “the biggies”.
For example - - Rom.1:28-32 - -
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind,
to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil;
full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant,
boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death,
they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Here we find gossips grouped with wickedness, full of envy, murder, haters of God and inventors of evil.
There is no distinction here between cardinal sins and venial sins.
We find no Biblical notations whatsoever distinguishing between MINOR sins and MAJOR sins.
This observation should give us pause if and when we attempt to downplay the sinfulness of GOSSIP.
This sermon is especially pertinent as we wrestle with modern-day social media.
We must take extra special care not to become wrapped up a world-wide gossip confab.
Someone has written, “Gossip is a the most deadly microbe. It has neither
legs nor wings. It is composed of tales, and most of them have stings.”
We need to work very hard to keep our tongues pure.
So live that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.
Gossip was a prevalent problem in the first-century church.
In 2Cor.12:20, Paul writes (NCV) - -
I am afraid that when I come, you will not be what I want you to be, and I will not be what your want me to be.
I am afraid that among you there may be arguing, jealousy, anger, selfish fighting, evil talk, gossip, pride and confusion.
In 1Tim.5:13 Paul paints a very unattractive portrait of some of the young widows in the church at Ephesus.
They go around from house to house; and (are) not merely idle, but (are) also
gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.
This sin of gossip that infiltrated the early church remains alive and well among us here in the church of the 21st century.
Not a few of us have been hurt by gossip - - we have felt the sting of the tales.
And not a few or us have also engaged in gossiping, hurting others perhaps more than we'll ever know.
During WWII our nation was fearful of important military information failing into the hands of German spies.
A work-place slogan was adopted to try to ward off potential indiscretions.
“LOOSE LIPS, SINK SHIPS!”
How the church has been hurt by gossiping.
I've shared this story with you years ago, but it continues to make a good point.
Mildred, the church gossip and self-appointed monitor of the church's morals, kept sticking her nose into other
people's business. Several members did not approve of her extra-curricular activities, but they feared her enough to
maintain their silence. She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic
after she saw his old pickup truck park in front of the town's bar, one afternoon. She emphatically told George
and several others that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing. George, a man of a few words,
stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend or deny. He said nothing.
Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred's house, walked home, and left it there all night.
Three final brief points about gossip and then we will close in prayer.
First - - the thing about gossips is they almost always start at as chronic fault-finders.
Invariably, tattle-tales and busybodies bring both sorrow and shame to the church.
James writes (Js.3:5) - - Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire.
Secondly, gossiping often does irreparable damage. Ill-spoken words can never be fully retrieved.
We can repent of our sin, but it is almost impossible to undo all of the harm done by words of gossip.
Yiddish folklore offers a telling-tale about gossip-makers.
One such man had told so many malicious untruths about the local rabbi, that, overcome by remorse, he begged
the rabbi to forgive him. “And, Rabbi, tell me how I can make amends.” The rabbi sighed, “Take two pillows,
go to the public square and there cut the pillows open. Wave them in the air. Then come back.” The rumormonger
quickly went home, got two pillows and a knife, hastened to the square, cut the pillows, waved them in the air
and hastened back to the rabbi's chambers. “I did just what you said, Rabbi!” “Good.” The rabbi smiled.
“Now, to realize how much harm is done by gossip, go back to the square.” “And? ”And collect all your feathers.”
Thirdly, and most importantly, gossiping is a sin of the mouth but it originates in the heart.
In Mk.7:21 Jesus states, FROM WITHIN, OUT OF THE HEART of men , proceed the evil thoughts...
The only way to curtail gossip is to undergo heart surgery - - lip surgery will not suffice.
A really good place to begin is for all of us to start praying daily one of David's psalms (Ps.19:14) - -
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.