Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?” (Proverbs 18:8, The Message Bible)
I can hear the violent reaction: “But I am not the talebearer. I didn’t start any talk so am I to be punished too?”
True. But by listening to gossip, we encourage the gossipers to go on and on. These are the people who like to have many listeners. They love to be the first to tell a story. They like the attention.
Also when we stay and listen to gossip it is going to be a challenge to our self-control not to pass on to others what we hear. Somehow, whatever we know is bound to leak out. This time, ignorance is bliss.
Listening to gossip hurts just like too much candy can hurt the teeth or give way to diabetes. Too bad we don’t contribute to the gossip yet we also hurt in the process.
Being in a room with smokers hurt our lungs too. We are not the active smokers but for the passive smokers, the one inhaling the smoke, there is an increase in the risks of developing diseases like asthma, respiratory illnesses, lung cancer and heart disease.
So what exactly is gossip? It is useless or spiteful tales especially about the personal or private affairs of others almost always done behind the back of the subject of the gossip.
It is not helpful. It just ends up creating greed, hate, envy, murder. Romans 1:29 – “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.”
But why do people gossip or listen to gossip?
We like to hear news and then tell it to others – particularly what we call “juicy” news.
At the same time, everybody loves a story. That’s why the Kapamilya TV show “Malaala Mo Kaya” has lasted a long time because the public wants to know about real life stories. Same thing with the Kapatid TV show Face-to-Face also watched avidly because of real people washing their dirty linen in public. Not to be outdone, Kapuso TV show True Stories (now “Tunay na Buhay”) dishes out life stories for us to suck in.
But do people who are being talked about like to be the butt of the story? Not sure about that.
One small idle talk can be a bombshell.
First, it breaks the trust of those people around you. When we spread rumors, it destroys our credibility. Who is going to trust us with anything when they know we cannot keep anything confidential?
Second, gossiping is judging others which is really not our job. God is in charge of judging people, not us. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Third, gossip is also a sign that we are not really active in our faith and in our lives. “The idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” (from H.G. Bohn’s “Handbook of Proverbs”).
Gossip is a consequence of boredom. If we’re busy enough, we should not have time to talk about other people’s lives. Be aware! What you start as a simple comment about people can make people comment and before you know it, other comments come and your simple statement has escalated into a story that may contain half-lies and half-truths already.
How do you know whether you are gossiping? Ask yourself the following questions: Am I certain that the facts of my story are correct? Do I realize that the story given to me is in confidence? Have I checked the facts with the subject of the story? Am I telling the story about someone to help build up other people?
If you’re answer is “no” to all these questions, you are gossiping.
Gain the trust of people. God rewards the just and the righteous, so do as God requests and avoid gossip.
The main question is: Would you like people to talk behind your back?
Of course you will not want that. So shouldn’t we then stop listening to gossips because like you, no one likes to be the subject of gossip and rumors?
It all redounds to living one of the most famous principles of Christian living– the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Now, do you still want to listen to gossips?