Young children often play a game called “Gossip.” The rules to the game are very simple. Several people get in a circle or a straight line. The person at the beginning of the circle or line thinks of a sentence like, “The red horse fell into the water.” That person whispers the sentence into the ear of the person next to him. He cannot repeat the sentence once he whispers it, and he must speak very softly. The next person in line listens carefully and then whispers the sentence she heard into the ear of the person next to her. After the sentence has gone through every person in the line or circle, the last person repeats the sentence as he thinks he heard it.
Almost every time, the sentence at the end of the game is not the same one that was whispered at the beginning. For instance, the last person might have heard something like, “The dead house turned into the otter” instead of the original sentence, “The red horse fell into the water.” The game does a good job of showing that words and sentences often can get confused when they are passed from one person to another. In a similar way, gossip often gets passed around so much that the facts get lost. Many times, the end of the “gossip train” is full of false, damaging information.
It is difficult for us to realize all of the heartache and sorrow gossip can cause. Spreading unkind and unnecessary comments about people (whether they are true or false) can destroy friendships, families, and the fellowship we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible says that “a whisperer [gossiper] separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28). In 1 Timothy 5:13, Paul wrote about the widows who practiced gossiping, saying: “And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” If we are not careful, we may find ourselves guilty of this same kind of wrongdoing. Keep in mind the words of the wise man: “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit”
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26).
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