Why People Gossip

Gossip  —  “The Virus Factor”

“In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
until someone comes forward and cross-examines.”
Proverbs 18:17

Like a cancer slowly decaying a human body is gossip to the efforts of a church seeking to faithfully serve our Lord Jesus.  It breaks down morale, depriving social groups of their finest intentions.  Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda master of the Nazi Third Reich would take great delight in how gossip demolishes church unity and derails Christ’s call to faith and courage.

Simply defined, gossip is to talk of someone in their absence, which conversation is meant to cause harm.  The words are used like a weapon to demean their place in the group.  Unmasked for what it really does, the following points exposes its effect,

  • Slander, oral communication of false statements injurious to a person’s reputation.
  • Libel, defamatory or unflattering representation or statement; written publication degrading another.
  • Malice, a desire to inflict harm or suffering on another.
  • Defamation of Character, the injuring of a person’s good name or reputation (BTW, that’s illegal! An attorney with time on their hands would be glad to help you in this matter)
  • Vilification, slanderous defamation
  • Revile, to assail with abusive language
  • Vituperate, to use harshly abusive language

People will actually try to defend gossip by insisting they are merely “concerned” about people.  The response such rationalization deserves is no more than “bologna,” but a proper test would be this.  Would the conversation meet with that person’s approval if they were present?

Prayer concern is a good example.  As a Pastor, I encounter many situations in which people are hurting and their needs require broader prayer support.  When conversing with another about such a need the expression is always in the very best interest of the other, typically encouraging prayer and possibly a visit by a close friend unaware of their need.  If the person in question was present they would respond with gratitude that their need is made known.  But even then, I usually ask permission to make that need known to others.  Often, confidentiality is the best gift I can provide for those in need.

Such a scenario would become gossip if the person in question would find my words embarrassing and harmful to their estate within the group.  If they might feel anxiety by what I speak in their absence then I have committed a heinous act.  Jesus mentioned such harmful acts as deserving the following,

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Matthew 18:6

Don Corleone would be impressed.  But what would provoke Jesus to utter such a harsh and frightening warning?  We must deduce a dire warning of serious judgment.  In the following context of Matthew 18, Jesus counsels one to cut off their hand or foot if it should cause harmful consequences.  Make no mistake about it, harmful gossip is serious business in Jesus’ eyes, deserving the harshest of consequences.  It’s not a cute or harmless activity.  Eventually we will have to answer to him directly for every careless word.

 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:36-37

Gossip is a virus to any community.  For the church, cooperation and unity are of primary essence.  When gossipers are at work the very spiritual fabric infused by the Holy Spirit will unravel and the church will lose its credibility in a community and the healing presence of Christ will evaporate like mist in the early afternoon.  Gossipers are the devil’s delight.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Ephesians 4:3, 14-15

 

Gossip Violence

Matthew 5:21-22
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago,
‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.
Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’
is answerable to the court.
And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Would you sucker punch someone?  Wait until they are looking away and then without their suspecting anything, Pow! Let them have it right in the face.  Or how about slapping someone while they are in the sanctuary of God?  It happens often in our churches, nearly every Sunday.  But instead of using fists and open palms, they use words which are just as painful and effective in registering the hurt you intend.  Physical bruises will heal, but spiritual bruising will linger.

1 John 3:15
“Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”

“Slander is evil, it is a restless demon (δαιμόνιον, “evil spirit“) never at peace, but always having its home among factions”
— Shepherd of Hermas (early 2nd century AD)
Mandate the Second: 3

Why People Gossip

1) Sense of Self-Empowerment.  Knowing some information, whether or not it is true or false, gives them a sense of importance.  To be out of the loop is to be naïve and simple. Solomon properly assesses them in Proverbs 26:12, “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for them.”  And Isaiah cautions, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21).

2) Social Commodity.  Bits of information = power.  “Look what I know that you don’t know.”  In this dark underworld, waffling between truth and lies, establishing one’s sense of a valuable resource for the secret knowledge of their community makes them seem important to those participating in dubious information.

3) Peer Pressure.  If they want to be a part of this group then they must conform their values and sense of right or wrong to the will of the group.  Rejection is one of the worst hurts people might experience.  For the lonely, rejection is absolutely terrifying.  They will compromise their conscience as the price for admission.  Sigmund Freud develops an ongoing premise in “Group Psychology” that when people ban together as an exclusive group,

  • Emotion Intensifies
  • Mental Atrophies

4) Defective Thinking.  They simply cannot gather enough cognition to pull together the poor estate of their behavior.  See the section in this Web Site about “Antagonists,” especially the pages on Sociopaths.  It has been a disturbing part of my research to observe people who regularly engage in gossip to carry on like sociopaths, oblivious to the harm they cause others while being energized to devastate the wellbeing of others.  Intelligent, stable people always take the time to pursue the full story and find the real truth.

5) Depression.  They are so impaired in cognition that they cannot process good things that could bring healing to their outlook.  They naturally respond to and cultivate the perspective of the negative, gloominess of life.  The downside of any situation is all they allow their minds to consider.  They are stuck in despair.

6) Over active Imagination.  They are easily given to boredom and so must “liven up” events around them.  In time, paranoia tends to guide their thinking and responses.  Obsessing upon the dark negatives of life they lose their perspective and eventually plunge into the slew of depression and despair.  Negative thinking can never nourish a mind, only wear it down.

“Where your focus goes,
Your energy flows.”
–   Gary Emery and Aaron T. Beck

7) Bitterness. Grudges and displaced anger rule their days.  They may carry a lifetime of pain themselves and vent their bitterness at any defenseless target.  It produces a verbal bullying.  Gossip is their weapon of retaliation.  It’s a coward’s tool, but all the easier to inflict harm without supposed fear of immediate retaliation.

8) Jealousy.  They resent a certain individual and want to get back at them for a perceived offense.  Whether the harm was intentional or imagined, gossip is such a convenient means of retaliation.  No expense and no messy clean up.  And besides it always injects a rush of adrenaline power in its users.

9) Vendetta against humanity.  Too many disappointments have gotten the better of them.  All the missed job promotions, education failures, sports snubs, and social rejections have taken their toil and they are out to get even.  If only they could forgive they could spare their life such misery, but they are stuck in many ages past.  Sometimes it’s not really about you at all, they resent everyone with equal passion.

10) Absence of Love.  Affection and care has never been credibly experienced and so they spew out their rage unaware of its consequences.  They deny feelings of love.  The sociopathic mind will not feel love at all and so never consider sympathy or regrets.

11) Carnal Soul.  The indwelling presence of Jesus Christ has never been experienced or allowed.  The emotional side of faith is carefully locked away in the recesses of their heart.  They go through the motions of Sunday morning rituals, but the Gospel is never allowed to reach their soul.

“The devil’s voice is sweet to hear.” 
                             — Stephen King

12) Spiritual Immaturity.  If Christ ever was allowed the opportunity to transform them the opportunity was short lived.  “When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Matthew 13:21).  Spiritually mature believers will always seek out productive ends for the benefit of the whole church.

13) Delusional Pursuit.  They have perpetuated a suspicion for so long that they reach a point of actually believing their own rumor.  Some controversy exists of who said it first, Adolf Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, but make the lie big enough and it eventually takes on its own power.  Speak it often enough and the people the line between truth and lie will become so blurred that no one will remember or know which is which.  The longer a rumor spins its destruction the more people will assume its credibility.  It’s the psychological effect of propaganda.

14) Divert Attention away from themselves.  The psychological estate of a gossiper is a miserable one.  Emotionally healthy people simply do not spend their time in conniving thoughts about hurting people.  Their own misery compels them to mask their faulty perceptions and cover their self-hate.

15) Spinning Truth.  The most common procedure for interrupting meeting is the ol’ “Well, here’s what I heard . . .” It’s an attitude of bragging and vaunting their assumed higher knowledge of a matter that others with inferior capabilities just don’t know.  But the end result is all a ruse.  It’s just an underhanded way for them to “spin” their particular bias of a given subject.

16) Authenticity by Association.  Similar to a shell game.  One simply proposes point #1 as true, point #2 is true, point #3 is true and point #5 is true.  Then in the midst of all these known truths they deliver point #4, their own version of the whole situation.  The brain has a way of stumbling over this system of logic.  Four of five points are correct, then why shouldn’t they believe the rest of the scenario.  It’s a tricky way of delivering pseudo-truth and skilled gossips know instinctively how to work this deception.

17) Self-Pity Martyr.  Now they are going straight for the heart strings.  A very dangerous Psy Opt strategy to rouse up the emotions to rally to their helpless estate and save them from the bullies.  In a church setting the overly dramatized victim is being picked on by the Pastor or ignored.  What a sorrowful, innocent and dejected of a poor soul who only wanted to help.  Some can play this for all its worth, with visions of an Emmy award for drama just waiting to be handed over to them.

18) Crusader.  And here arrives the savior for the Self-Pity Martyr.  Such a sickening melodrama works itself right in the midst of adults who should know better, but they cannot resist following this script for all its worth.  A mature, reasonable person would be embarrassed of this scheme, but for one who believes gossip is a valid means of fighting . . . no problem.  Conscience never reaches their soul to matter.

19) Cowardly Choice of Warfare, one presumably need never face their targeted victim.  Simply shoot a few harmful words and run for cover before others realize the conversation has actually been loaded with volatile words, like shots fired by a cloaked sniper.  They can harm and then suppose they can avoid retaliation.  But when the same criticism falls back on them they quickly fold.  The old maxim is absolutely true of gossipers that “they can dish it out but they cannot take it.”  Their choice weapon reveals their all too sensitive Achilles Heel.

See http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/12/26/websites-battle-online-vitriol-with-mixed-results/?intcmp=features, regarding efforts to control hazardous internet abuse, referred to s internet “trolls.”

20) Power & Control.  It’s a central thesis of this Web site that if there is conflict within community, the ol’ P & C (power and control) is at work.  People will use gossip as a tool to climb the social ladder of power.  They can knock down those above them and oppress those under them.  Intimidation is the key to this verbal assault.  They seek control they do not deserve and abuse whatever form they think they have found.

21) Sensationalism.  What better way to keep things alive than spreading wild yarns of fiction.  Campfires are intriguing for their fright affect in the dark, listening to unimaginable stories to frighten us.  Who can resist looking at a car wreck on the highway even though you know it will be awful (not to mention totally disrespectful to those injured).  Even though you know that overlooked milk cartoon is way, way past its expiration and has surely curled in awful way . . . you still have to open it and take a whiff.  Every Stephen King novel is a best seller.  Supermarket tabloids almost always sell out every week.  As disillusioning as it may be, our culture is a sucker for the sensational.  That latest bit of news is gossip, but people will not even try to resist its sinister intentions.  If it’s true that only adds to the drama, but truth is purely optional when people are looking for that social “zing.”

 

What the Bible Says about Gossip

Proverbs 18:17

In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.

Matthew 7:1-3

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Matthew 12:36-37

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Romans 14:10

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”

James 4:11-12

“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”

1 Peter 2:1

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”

Proverbs 11:8-9, 12-13                                    

The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.

With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

 

Proverbs 26:20-22

20 Without wood a fire goes out;
without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.

 

Proverbs 22:10

Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
quarrels and insults are ended.

 

Proverbs 12:6

The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,

But the speech of the upright rescues them.

 

Proverbs 12:18

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,

But the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Psalm 64:3

They sharpen their tongues like swords

And aim cruel words like deadly arrows.

Proverbs 6:16-19

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17       haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,

feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies

and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

 

Isaiah 58:9-10

“If you do away with … the pointing finger and malicious talk,
   . . .  then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

2 Thessalonians 3:11

We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.

1 Timothy 5:13

Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to.

 

Church Vulnerability

In a church setting it is particularly vulnerable to such destructive schemes.

1) No established rules for acceptance/rejection, until severe offenses have already been committed, typically after the harm is done and those remaining can no longer tolerate the bad behavior.

 

2) Churches are supposed to be open, nice and inclusive

Thus carrying the label of naïve, which sociopaths sense with keen psychological sonar.

 

3) Some churches are so desperate for new members, they will accept and tolerate anyone, unwilling to offend anyone.

 

Avoid Gossips

Romans 16:17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

 

1 Corinthians 5:11

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

 

Titus 3:10-11

 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.

Matthew 18:15-17

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

 

Deeds Done in Darkness

Ephesians 5:8-12

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

Galatians 5:13-15

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Galatians 5:19-21

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; HATRED, DISCORD, JEALOUSY, FITS OF RAGE, SELFISH AMBITION, DISSENSIONS, FACTIONS 21 and ENVY; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Matthew 7:1-3

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Matthew 12:36-37

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 

James 4:11-12

“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”

 

Proverbs 11:8-9, 12-13                                    

The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.

With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

 

Proverbs 26:20-22

20 Without wood a fire goes out;
without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.

 

Proverbs 22:10

Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
quarrels and insults are ended.

 

Ephesians 4:25-27, 29-32

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

29 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.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

1 John 2:9-11

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

 

1 John 4:7-8, 19-21

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

 

Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God

And that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

______

The Sabotage of Gossip

Loose lips sink ships

Numbers 13:32-33

32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.

They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.

33 We saw the Nephilim  there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim).

We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Numbers 14:36-38

36 So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it —

37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord.

38 Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.

 

__________

People who gossip are cowards and hypocrites, says Pope Francis

By Carol Glatz, 13 September 2013

Pope greets crowd as he arrives to lead general audience at Vatican

People who judge and criticise others are hypocrites and cowards who are unable to face their own defects, Pope Francis has said.

Gossip, too, is “criminal” as it destroys, rather than exalts the image of God present in others, he said in his early morning homily today (September 13) at his residence of Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“Those who live judging their neighbours, speaking badly of them, are hypocrites because they don’t have the strength, the courage to look at their own defects,” he said.

“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own,” he said, referring to the day’s Gospel reading according to St Luke.

Every time “we judge our brothers and sisters in our heart, and worse, when we talk about it with others, we are killer Christians”, imitating Cain who committed “the first homicide in history”.

Gossip, too, has “this dimension of criminality” because there is no such thing as “innocent gossip”, he said. “If one of us gossips, certainly he is a persecutor, someone violent.”

St James the Apostle said the tongue is for praising God, “but when we use our tongue to speak badly of our brother or sister, we use it to kill God,” he said, killing “the image of God in our brother”.

Instead, people need to pray and do penance for others and, he said, “if it’s necessary, speak to the person who can solve the problem. Don’t tell everybody about it.”

People need “a gesture of conversion,” he said, because just as St Paul was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man” he was “mercifully treated”.

The Pope asked people to pray for “the grace of conversion from the criminality of gossip to love, humility, meekness, gentleness and the magnanimity of love toward the other”.

 

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/09/13/people-who-gossip-are-cowards-and-hypocrites-says-pope-francis/

__________

At Snopes.com, Rumors Are Held Up to the Light

By DAVID POGUE, NYTimes, July 15, 2010

David Pogue: What’s driving people to pass [urban legends/rumors] on?

David Mikkelson (Snopes.com administrator): A lot of it is just people’s desire to do good. They think they’re being helpful by passing along something — a piece about a missing child, or warning you about some sort of crime that you might fall victim to.

Some of it is just people looking to show off. “I’m smart. I know this and you don’t.”

Some of it is attempts to prove other people wrong about things, usually of a political nature. A lot of things that are truly urban legends: things that have narratives, that have plots, and morals. They’re often a way that people encapsulate and pass along fears and anxieties. A lot of what we see is directly related to what’s going on in the world.

They’re also tacit ways of expressing or reinforcing prejudices. Maybe a crime rumor that has to do with gangs or Mexicans. And it’s — “Well, I’m not saying this about whatever group. It’s the story I heard says that they’re doing whatever.” It’s sort of a camouflage.

__________

Remember Me?

My name is Gossip.
I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
The more I am quoted, the more I am believed.
I grow at every level of society.
My victims are helpless.

They cannot protect themselves against me,
because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try,
the more invisible I become.
I am nobody’s friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I bring down governments and wreck marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights and heartaches.
I create suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name is hisses.

I am called GOSSIP.
Office gossip – Shop gossip – Party gossip – Telephone gossip.
I make headlines and headaches.

REMEMBER, before you repeat a store, ask youself:
Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it fair?
If not, do not repeat it!
KEEP QUIET!

Great minds discuss ideas… Average minds discuss events…
Shallow minds discuss people.
Which are you?
Ann Landers

__________

Socrates on Gossip

In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.  One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”

“Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

“Triple filter?”

“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say.

The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”

“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not.

Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”

“No, on the contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued. “You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter – the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really”

Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?”

The man was defeated and ashamed.

 

 

Remember not only to say the right thing

in the right place,

but far more difficult still,

to leave unsaid the wrong thing

at the tempting moment.

 

      _________

Jesus and Gossip

Matthew 11:19

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say,

‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard,

a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

 

Even Jesus was victimized by the psych-op warfare of gossip and propaganda.  His antagonists raised a four-fold assault,

1) Glutton

2) Drunkard

3) Financial fraud, a friend of tax collectors

4) Bad company, friend of sinners.

 

Jesus presents our best option against such dark attacks.  The best defense to gossip: right actions.

“But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

You cannot fight the gossips at their own game for you both become a base lot.  If you truly want to humiliate, expose and defeat the gossip-mongers, live above their verbal assault.  Live a better life than what they accuse.  After all, the real arena of accountability is not in the back rooms of their meddling, but in the larger open areas where your reputation and credibility is at stake.  Where a smile and be happy.  You will crush those intending you harm by such cheap means.  Those around you will have enough sense to know the truth by what they see, not what they hear.

Typically, malicious people have a weak fortitude.  Their stamina quickly fails them.  To see this in action just watch what happens when their same behavior falls back on them.  They implode right before your eyes.  So when you prove immune to their verbal assault their actions will be exposed as weak and petty.  Remain strong and stand firm, announce plans for a healthy future and they will likely collapse under the strain of impotence to control you.  They will not be able to survive the disapproval of the broader community.  Their continual focus on pessimism will consume their own minds and they will magnify how they imagine others consider them.

 

Actions always trump accusations

— Ruben Thompson

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Why People Gossip

  1. You’ve have really covered the ground re: gossip.As a teenager I recall how good it felt when you could indulge in ” one up man ship”. A teenager has such feelings of being inadequate. I read it begins at 3 yrs of age ” my truck is bigger than yours”. Again,I plead, can’t we act like grown-ups? Are there so few..Part of being in touch with the child within is to know that that child needs to grown up. I like the definition of sin ” anything that is destructive to another person” (also to ourselves). It’s the life long conditioning from which we need to be saved . It would be wonderful to feel we are set free. I think you’re doing the best you can to deal with the teenagers in our congregation.

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