Truthful Words: How to Avoid Gossip

Given that gossip is so destructive, and we are so readily inclined to participate in it, how can we put a stop to its pernicious power over us? Proverbs provides us with two helpful pieces of wisdom to help us quash the power of gossip.

Watch What You Say

“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Proverbs 26:20). The first way to avoid the destructive effects of gossip is to watch what you say. Like a fire among dry kindling, gossip has a voracious appetite. But if we refuse to pass on gossip, we effectively stop its advance, for gossip can only destroy if it is continually fueled.

We must refuse to be the next link in the gossip chain, the next bit of fuel that builds the flame higher. To stop the power of gossip, we need to bridle our tongues by watching what we say.

Watch What You Eat

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8). Imagine the first few bites of an excellent meal at your favorite restaurant. These are choice morsels—so appealing you can’t wait to dig in, and so good you just have to eat more. Gossip, as we all know, can be just as tempting. But however delicious it may taste, gossip is worse for you than junk food. Somehow that juicy bit, when you do consume it, goes deep inside you. It may have tasted good going down, but there’s no nutrition in it. In fact, you’ve ingested a spiritual poison that strikes at the very core of your being. To avoid the poisonous power of gossip, you must refuse to consume it.

False testimony, gossip, and slander are not merely foolish. They promote lies—which are hated by the God of all truth—or harm the reputation of people made in the image of God. But truthful words are wise. They bring health, life, and success to ourselves, our families, our churches, and our communities.

The Gift of Words

Why does God care so much about how we use words? Because words are a gift from him. God’s gift of language is woven into everything we are, as humans and especially as Christians. Words were present at the beginning, when God created the universe by speaking. He has told mankind of himself and his ways through his Word, the Bible. He has sent his Son, who is himself the Word of God made flesh. And after this world has passed away, we will use words throughout eternity to glorify God and talk with one another.

Our ability to use words, and our reliance on words, are indications that humanity was made in the image of God. It therefore matters very much to God how we use this precious gift. To accurately reveal God’s image in us, we must use words according to his command and purpose.

Excerpted from A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio

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