Sometimes I imagine being the unseen and silent person in people’s conversations. Seeing as the tongue is untamable and full of deadly poison (James 3:8 NIV), I often wonder what I could gather. The negative power of that little creature manifests in criticism, insults, lying, and complaints, among other evils. It has attacked and destroyed many friendships and relationships.
Having been a victim of gossip before, as I envision myself as the soundless listener in some dialogues, I can best describe them as sniper-chats (my own jargon for gossip). In view of the fact that, a sniper is a person who shoots at and kills individuals from a concealed or distant position, sniper-chats are simply conversations targeted at those individuals. The target goes down never knowing what hit them. I have heard it said that gossip is quickly told, quickly heard, and quickly spread; I think it is quickly believed too.
Almost 4 years ago I was confronted by a fellow sister in Christ about something I had supposedly said about her 2 years prior. I listened to the unsubstantiated claims in shock; with ears, eyes and mouth wide open. Words failed me because never had I encountered a situation like this. No, especially not in the church lobby!
Once or twice I had wondered why her attitude toward me had changed but never bothered to find out the reason behind it but here it was.
Tears started flowing down her face as she spoke; obviously the lady was very hurt. “That’s why I have not been picking your calls but I have forgiven you for all that I was told you said about me.”
Whoa! I was being forgiven for an offense I wasn’t even aware of. For 2 years, unbeknown to me someone or some people had secretly tarnished my reputation and as a result ruined a wonderful friendship. I really wanted to know who they were but the thought of discovering that they could be close friends frightened me, so I never asked. On the other hand, I quickly learned that a gossip mill is not only a place (like the water cooler or the break room work) but it can as well be a person or a group of people; and even professing Christians are not exempt from causing or being affected by the havoc that these mills produce.
Among the church folk, prayer meetings sometimes turn out to be gossip mills where gossip originates and masquerades as prayer requests. I wonder if this particular sniper-chat with me as the subject came up as follows: “I just want to say something in confidence. Let’s pray for Sister Dee. She really needs help. She has been saying this and that about so and so. I could be wrong but I hear she also did…” It is apparent that no one stopped this particular mill from grinding, if anything, I presume that more grain was added to it. No wonder someone was very hurt – for 2 long years!
Gossip captivates, it is like choice morsels (Proverbs 18:8 NIV) and the flesh can never have enough of it yet it harms both the manufacturer and the victim; it goes down to a man’s inmost parts corrupting him like an aggressive disease. However, the good news is that when a person functions in wisdom by walking in the spirit (Galatians 5:16 NIV) they will be successful in bridling their tongue (James 1:26 ESV) and not give themselves up to be used as a gossip mill.
Copyright © 2014 Dee Kyalo-Mwanzia. All Rights Reserved.
*This article ranked 1st in its category at FaithWriters and was first published by Dee Kyalo, Author of Crushing Invisible Barriers and Looking Up . Check out the cool reviews and ‘like’ us on Facebook! Both books are available here now.