James 3 refers to the tongue as a fire; “a world of evil among the parts of the body…it corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire and is itself set on fire by Hell.”
“Those who consider themselves religious yet do not keep a tight reign on their tongue deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
Ponder those words with me. Sit with them for a moment: A world of evil-with the ability to set the entire course of our lives on fire. Now that should catch our attention, especially because James also says, “Those who consider themselves religious yet do not keep a tight reign on their tongue deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26) That-that is weighty. Even writing these words is immensely sobering. Do I really understand the weight and the power that the words I speak have and how accountable I am for them?
If we’re frank, we will most likely admit that we don’t normally view the words that come out of our mouths as potentially evil and full of deadly poison. Putting it that way almost seems comical and over dramatic. In a culture where everyone is told that they are “a special snowflake with a unique message” , to “do you”, “don’t ever change for anyone”, and especially “don’t let anyone tell you how to think or what to do”, I would guess that for most of us, if we are brutally honest, would admit the words that fall from our mouths are one of the last things we are concerned about when it comes to our quest for holiness.
I think that gossip is a natural part of our conversations quite honestly because it makes us feel better about our own failings and insecurities when we talk about the downfalls and flaws of others. It also gives us something to talk about when small chat is uncomfortable or scarce to come by.
All of us know that gossip is not just a secular problem. It runs rampant within the Church; found within the inner workings of our churches; in friend groups, men’s ministries, women’s Bible studies, Sunday Morning worship chit chats, and especially in the sharing of prayer requests.
“Will you please pray for my friend? This is what’s going on…”. “Will you pray for Bill? Do you know what he’s struggling with? He needs our prayers.” “Will you pray with me for our Pastor? I heard….” And the list could go on.
Here’s the reality. Not all gossip is false; I realize that. Whether it is true or false information, Scripture still calls us to guard our tongues against gossiping (the inappropriate spreading of information that paints another in a bad light) and slandering (Eph 4:29, Ex 23:1, James 4:11, Prov 10:19).There is a time and place for leaders responsible for safeguarding the Church to intentionally seek out the truth regarding the nature of character accusations, discuss it and deal with it. But that is not what is happening 99% of the time when gossip is being spread.
just because you’re close friends with someone doesn’t mean you have a hall pass to gossip
Beyond this, just because you’re close friends with someone doesn’t mean you have a hall pass to gossip. We are called in Proverbs to have relationships where “iron sharpens iron”- pushing each other towards holiness. If gossip prevails among your friendships, repent, and call yourself and your friends to a higher standard. Chase after the Lord together; you will grow deeper in relationship with Him and each other; finding peace as you honor our Savior.
James says that no man can tame the tongue. Since our tongues have such power for evil, then we must come on our knees before our Savior’s Throne seeking His help with our failings, praying the words of Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”
Make war friends. We only have one life to offer as a sacrifice to our Savior, and for that life, we will give an account. Ask for accountability from trusted friends and mentors. Don’t mess around in the mud of workplace and church gossip.
”Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil-for to You alone is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever and ever, Amen.”