"A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret."
We know we shouldn't talk about people behind their backs, but sometimes it is difficult to help ourselves. Whether we’re among family, at work, or with friends, what’s really behind these shameful betrayals that makes it so difficult to stop?
Janie just got that promotion! I’m not surprised, the way she flirts with the boss grumbles a colleague who’d like to be promoted herself. ‘That bean pole? I’m sure she’s anorexic,’ replies her friend.
The sad fact is gossip offers a state of comfort. A few spiteful words shared in confidence can offer us the illusion of control. With friends, colleagues or family, saying bad things about other people brings the onus of the situation back into our own mirrored reality. A reality that is out of touch at the moment.
We all know it’s wrong to gossip, and no one wants to seem deliberately malicious. So why do we indulge in such atrocities? Gossip builds social bonds because shared dislikes create stronger bonds than shared positives. Believe it or not, two people who don’t know each other will feel closer if they share something nasty against a third person than if they say nice things. It’s a way of demonstrating their shared values and sense of control over a distasteful situation.
Anytime I tell others something that could perceivably hurt someone's reputation, I am gossiping. Even if my words are crouched as trying to help them. In Proverbs we learned that "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. In other words, when someone tells us something in confidence, we should keep that information to ourselves. A few words we've heard over the water cooler can ruin a person's reputation and break up relationships. Then in the heat of the moment, in a frenzy of gossip, we can create a stew for the makings of a true mess.
Gossip can be a risky activity; it can quickly lead to awkwardness, and distrust. It leaves the victim unable to defend themselves, and can leave a trail of suspicion. We gossip when we feel unfairly treated. Once you stop feeling like a victim, the energy you invested in that activity can be focused on prayer instead.
Teach me to trust in you during
these awkward situations where I feel
mistreated. Stop gossip before it
comes out of my mouth. Challenge
me through your love in the art of