“NO-GOSSIP ZONE”                                         By Pastor YAU

Text: Psalm 15:1-5                                               May 31, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A modern-day problem: In some offices today, you can get fired for gossiping. According to a survey, an average employee gossips more than 65 hours a year, which is more than one and a half 5-days workweek. One Chicago firm decided to become a “no-gossip zone.” They require all employees never talk badly about coworkers behind their backs. If you do it and get caught, you will lose your jobs.

2)   An ancient-day solution: Over 3,000 years ago, King David saw the vicious roots of gossiping and the harm it had caused those who gossiped and those who were victims of gossip. He gave some very good advice to curb this seemingly small mishap but actually a symptom of a much serious spiritual problem. If a person gossips against his neighbor, it reflects his poor spiritual life and a danger to his relationship with God. (Psalm 15:1-5)

 

UNDERSTAND GOSSIPING:

1)    It is an ancient problem: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16) While this may be talking primarily about lying at judicial proceedings, gossip could also be included in the command because it violates the law toward your neighbor. God saw it as very serious to include it in the Ten Commandments.

2)    It is a deadly problem: “A man bears false witness against his neighbor is like a club, a sword and a sharp arrow.” (Proverb 25:18)Words of false nature spoken either in a public hearing of a court or a private conversation behind someone’s back are so damaging to the victim as stricken by a ball club, pierced by a sword or a sharp arrow which may cause death to the victim. 

3)    It damages relationships: “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife.” (Number 12:1)The first wife of Moses had died and Moses did not marry a Jew as it was expected, Miriam and Aaron were upset because of this. So they began to gossip, said bad things, against Moses. This caused anger of God that burned them. (12:9)This act of gossip against Moses had damaged the relationship between Moses and his siblings. It was true then and it is true now.

4)    It reveals ignorance: “Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct like unreasoning animals, these are the very things that destroy them.” (Jude 1:10)Most of the things people gossips are things they don’t know nor understand. Jude called these people unreasoning animal and the result of their gossiping is self-destruction.

 

WAYS TO CURB GOSSIPING:

1)   There is a better way: A ministry for people in the entertainment industry takes a refreshing alternative to gossip. They combat it with prayer. Instead of putting down famous people who get in trouble with bad choices, they encourage people to pray for them. This can be an effective alternative in our life and life of the church. Instead of gossiping people’s failure behind their backs, we can pray for them as individuals and small groups.

2)   Take the direct route: “Leave your gift in front of the altar. First go to and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer you gift.” (Matt. 5:24)Although this is about reconciling with your brother differences, the direct approach could be applied in things you may think your brother is wrong. Instead of talking bad thing about him or gossiping, go to the brother, or sister, in a direct and humble way to clear any grievance you may have against him. When using this direct method, sincerity, loving and kind and humble are important to have desire result.

3)   Self exam opportunity: James encouraged the early Christians to look at the mirror, God’s word, and see their own short coming, we can do the same thing. Look at the failures of others and do self-examination on our own life, especially areas of defect or needs of improvement. When we see our own failures and areas of need, we won’t be comfortable to gossip on failure of others. When we are sympathetic on their failures, we won’t gossip.

4)   Foresee the damages: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28)A perverse man is an evil man who intentionally twists facts or insert false info to stir up dissension between otherwise close friends. We heard story after story that friendships were broken because of pervasive gossips. Before we begin to gossip, think of the damages it may bring to you and to your friends. At this moment, zipping your lips is wisdom: “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he hold his tongue.” (Proverbs 17:28)

 

BUILDING A GOSSIP-FREE ZONE: (Psalm 15:1-5)

1)       In the presence of God: “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1) To dwell in God’s sanctuary or to live on God’s holy hill means to be in the presence of God, to be with God all the time. Can anyone imagine that he can gossip in the presence of God? In fact, we are in the presence of God all the time because God is omnipresent. I can’t think of anyone who dares to do that when God is watching. Before you loosen your tongue to gossip, think of how God may react to what you are about to say.

2)       The kind of person you are: “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous.” (15:2)Before you open your mouth to gossip, take a moment to see your true picture: what kind of person you truly are: Blameless? Righteous? Are you qualified to talk badly about others? Don’t wait until God or someone else to condemn you, do yourself a favor: look on your inside honestly to see if you are blameless and righteous so you are qualified to gossip on the failures of others.

3)       The three-step formula: “(He) has no slander on his tongue, he does his neighbor no wrong and he casts no slur on his fellowman.” (15:3) To slander is to spread false accusations with vicious intend to destroy the reputation or dignity. To do wrong to a neighbor is to do evil intended to harm people who are close to you. To cast a slur is to say bad things against someone without the support of evidence. Before you open your mouth to gossip, think of this three-step test.

4)       Sense of good and evil: “He despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord. He keeps his oath even it hurts.” (15:4) A vile man is a man without moral sense. If you stay away from those who don’t have the sense of moral value or right and wrong, you won’t follow their crowd talk bad thing against others. Building a strong sense of good and evil that will keep you from following the crowd in gossiping.

5)       Protect yourself from harm: “He who does these things will never be shaken.” (15:5) Be shaken means facing harms from getting in trouble or standing on shaky ground. It may include facing uncertain future or unseen fear. The Bible points to the blessings for those who do all the right things, keep themselves from slandering others, do no harm to anyone and keep their promises even it hurts. Even if it is for self-interest not to gossip or slander or talk badly about others, shouldn’t we follow the wise advice?

 

CONCLUSION:

1)     Look at the problem in its eyes: Gossiping, slandering and talking badly behind people’s back has been there for centuries and had damaged and destroyed untold number of individuals, families and other relationships. Apostle James described the poisonous use of our tongues and the destruction it resulted. (James 3:1-12) Be very careful next time you are tempted to make comments behind people’s back.

2)     Help build a gossip-free zone: This may be in the family, at working places, in the church or in the neighborhood. Learn from the teachings of Psalm 15 and be the kind of people the psalmist described. Before you say anything bad about others, remember God is there with you and is witnessing what you are saying. Your choice of words and attitude you hold reflect the true color of your spiritual quality and your character.

3)     Gossiping is from sinful nature: It makes us feel superior, better and higher than the one we gossip about. It blinds us to see our own failures and defects. It helps to boost our fake ego and makes us feeling proud for nothing. All these are results of our sinful nature. Confess to God our own sins and ask forgiveness from God so we may have the power to control our lips. With God everything is possible, even to stop gossiping.