Human conversation can be a powerful tool. It can also be a very destructive weapon. Human language and how we use it is a decision that we make every day of our lives. What you say and the manner in which you say it can be very creative or counterproductive. The destructive power of gossip is a reality to be dealt with.
The overwhelming majority of teaching takes place when someone uses their ability to speak. Many lessons are taught with visuals, art and instruments, however, the majority of what we learn is taught by what we hear through human language.
In the New Testament book of James, the author gives warning about becoming a teacher. In other words, James says that we need to be very careful in how we use speech. He says,” Do not let many of you become teachers….. Knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says he is perfectly able to bridle the whole body as well.” (James 3:1-2)
James is saying that if we can control what we say we can control just about any part of our personality. Some may disagree with this, however, James goes on to say that we should think about a massive ship when we think about our speech behavior. This sea vessel is enormous but yet it is controlled by one small rudder. So it is with us as humans.
Think of all the problems that your organization, charity group, business or church has had in the last year. How were these problems created? Chances are those conflicts evolved from one small conversation that developed into a larger conversation that exploded into a crisis.
And it all started with the words that proceeded from one mouth!
I came across a proverb that best defines the dangers of gossip.
“There once was a man in the countryside that engaged in repeating a vicious rumor about one of his neighbors. Soon, the whole countryside has heard the rumor this man was spreading. Later, the man learned that the information was untrue. He was very sorry and went to an elderly man in the community who had a reputation for great wisdom to seek his advice. The elder told the person, “Go home and find the best feather pillow that you can find and take it outside. Rip the pillow open and scatter the feathers, then return to me tomorrow.” The man did as the elder had told him. The next day, the storyteller came back. The elder said to him,” Now what I want you to do is go and collect the feathers you scattered yesterday and bring them back to me.” The person went out to search for the feathers, but the wind had carried them all away. This troubled man returned to the wise old man and said, ”I cannot find any of the feathers that I scattered yesterday.” The elder statesman then said to the younger man, “It was very simple to scatter the feathers wasn’t it?” The young man replied, ”Yes, it was a very simple task to scatter the feathers yesterday. However, I cannot find a single feather today.” The wise man then replied, “This is what gossip is all about. It is easy to spread around, but you can never collect it once it is out. So it is with hurtful words!”
Just remember what the Apostle James said, “…the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
Wow! I believe I will keep my words to myself! How about you?