Is it okay to gossip?
My grandmother went to her church's Tuesday morning ladies' Bible study religiously.
When my mother asked her what they studied, she gave my mother the low-down on what members of the church divorced, had babies or married.
Instead of wanting to study the Word of God, my grandmother wanted to ingest the tasty morsels of gossip.
Gossip is popular. Otherwise television programs, such as Entertainment Tonight, The Insider and Access Hollywood wouldn't be needed. Neither would the tabloids and entertainment magazines at the grocery store check-out stands.
People just have to know who is seeing whom, who has gone mental, who is cheating on whom and who is having a baby in Hollywood.
It is our need to know that spurs the gossip industry. It is that same need that has shattered so many young lives in Hollywood. It is that need that has celebrities being chased by the paparazzi twenty-four/seven.
We are all guilty of gossip. Men would like us to think it's a woman thing, but that is not true. Gossip is not discriminatory. It attacks men and women alike.
What is gossip? Anything we hear about someone behind their back is gossip. Anything that we wouldn't say to their face is also gossip.
Most gossip is done in secret at beauty shops, on golf courses, in the board rooms, in churches and in schools.
Anything we have to hide is negative and counter-productive to our health.
Why is gossip so tasty? The Bible calls gossip dainty morsels (Proverbs 18:8 NLT).
I believe it is because we feel that our own lives are boring. Therefore we want to hear or read about the exciting details of other's lives--dead or alive--to live vicariously through them.
The same friends who gossip with us will gossip against us to their other friends. Most gossip is based entirely on rumors and on accounts that are second and third, and maybe even forth-hand.
It is difficult to get a straight story after that many hands have been involved.
Remember the game "Telephone"? We tell one person in the group something, and they tell the next person and that one tells the next. By the time it reaches the last person, the message has been altered.
It is the way with gossip. By the time, it reaches us after going through so many hands, it is revised and void of the original truth.
Why do people gossip? They are curious about other people's lives.
Instead of focusing on their purpose, they are focused on what others are doing. Their attention is on the wrong thing. They must return it to God and the needs of other people.
Ever notice that gossip never focuses on anything good. It always focuses on who did what to whom and who is cheating on whom.
Instead of saying, "Isn't it wonderful that Cathy and Tony are having a baby," they say, "Did you see how heavy Cathy is getting? Do you see how much time she spends with Hank? I bet he is the real father and not Tony. Poor, poor Tony!"
They have already tried and convicted Cathy and Hank without offering any kind of evidence or finding out Cathy and Hank's sides of the story.
Gossip isn't just cruel but deadly.
Let's say Tony is the jealous type, and he hears the rumors. He kills both Cathy and Hank without asking for their sides of the story.
Then he finds out later while sitting in prison that Cathy and Hank had been planning a surprise party for Hank's wife Stacey. Now not only has Tony ruin his own family but Hank's as well.
We may think this is couldn't happen or that it is an extreme case, but gossip and rumors destroy friendships and relationships more times than we know.
When we transferred to high school, gossip cost me the friends I had in junior high school.
I don't remember the rumor now, but they accused me of something I didn't do. They tried, convicted and banned me from their group no matter how hard I tried to protest.
Gossip is like dainty morsels. We all love to hear tidbits about others, but it is not fair to the people being gossiped about or to their spouses, parents, loved ones and children.
It is hard to miss the celebrity news, even if you don't watched those entertainment gossip shows, because the professional newcasters now consider people entering rehabilitation centers and mental wards breaking news.
How many times are these celebrities entering rehabilitation centers because they can't deal with the constant media attention? The photographers from the news outlets? The paparazzi? The tabloids pasting their pictures on their publications and websites?
If we had to live with our every move being watched, we might turn to alcohol and drugs or go mental too.
Gossip causes dissension. Any time gossip starts so do arguments.
Let's say Steve, Bob's friend, told him that he saw Bob's wife, Sally with another man at a club. Therefore Bob believes his wife Sally is cheating on him.
Bob confronts Sally, causing dissension between him and her. It also strains his relationship with Steve because he is the one who told Bob about it.
All of us love to hear the latest gossip, but do we ever think about how these rumors affect the people behind those rumors?
The next time someone gossips to us, we should imagine that they are speaking about our sisters, mothers, fathers or spouses.
Remember that this person they are speaking of is someone's child. What if this person talked about our children that way? What would we do?
We have to challenge ourselves to become gossip-free zones. We have to train ourselves not to listen to nonsense about other people.
It is none of our business who cheated on whom, who has been seen in a club with someone other than his wife. That is not our concern.
How can we be around people who are gossiping at the office? Or among our friends? We have to be vigilant enough to walk away from the conversation.
As much as we might want to hear it, we are better off if we walk away. Then we won't be a part of the ruining of the lives of those the rumors are about.
Whatever we hear, drops into our heart. Do we really want gossip to be in our heart? Out of the heart flows the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23 KJV), and we will muddy up those rivers if we listen or repeat gossip.
Ask God to help you control your gossip problem today.
Don't try to stop doing it yourself. Every time you are tempted to gossip, just say, "Lord, I can't stop this, but You can." Before you know it, you won't have a desire to gossip anymore.
Annagail Lynes is a published author, pharmacy technician and starting her business as a life coach.
To follow her weekly e-newsletter, go to coachannagail.com
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