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UCG IA Bible Insights Thursday, November 17 2022

Sticks and stones may break my bones

Does what we say help or harm our relationships? Do we sometimes zero in on the flaws, and frailties of others? Gossip can work like the old party game Telephone or Chinese Whispers, in which the original information is distorted and negatively altered as it is passed on.

by Jean Jantzen

Families can be especially prone to gossiping, as we have easy access to each other’s idiosyncrasies, habits or blunders. We have to ask ourselves when we gossip to others, “Is what I’m saying helpful and constructive, or simply tearing down?” As we read in Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (New International Version throughout).

Even if what we say is true, it does not justify unnecessarily passing on hurtful information about someone else. Remember, it’s gossip when true, slander when false. Both are wrong. Proverbs 26:20 gives us some godly advice about gossip: “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

We have all made errors in judgment when viewing others from too narrow a lens. When was the last time we saw someone make a mistake, in our opinion, and then gossiped about it? We all need to guard against defining others by their mistakes, and being harsh and critical in passing on information about them. We should strive to define others by what is good and positive. The Apostle Paul has to remind each one of us to think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others (Philippians 4:8).

We must learn to choose our words more carefully and be aware that words once uttered cannot be recalled: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).