Swallow That Gossip

"He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." Prov. 18:13

Is passing judgment upon others ever the duty of a Christian?

Never, if it is prejudgment. If you come up with a verdict before hearing all the facts of a case, then face it, you are prejudiced. If you only investigate one side of the question, you are guilty of prejudiced investigation, which is twisting the truth. Folly and shame are your rewards. If you have shown haste and prejudice in judgment, regardless of who you are or what position you occupy in the church, you should humble yourself, confess it as sin, and repent.

This has to do with gossip. Hold that juicy news you know about. Swallow it. In many cases, silence is golden. "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10:19). If you swallow it, you help keep it from spreading. And perhaps even better than swallowing it would be to spit it out! In other words, you may even need to rebuke the person who spread it to you!

This has to do with counseling. Don't start talking until you have heard a person out. Give him an opportunity to share, then answer: Jumping to conclusions is poor sport in conversation. It usually terminates the talk: Hasty chatter is foolish and humiliating. A ready wit is for play and fun, but do business with solid judgment and wisdom. Do not pass judgment until you are fully informed.

This has to do with criticizing, especially to third parties. Instead of settling a problem by going to the other person, we make phone calls, write letters and emails, and try to enlist the support and help of others. Forming a coalition may be good politics, but it is not a Biblical procedure. If you are informed and asked to get involved in a problem, remember: "The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him" (Proverbs 18:17). Therefore, be especially suspicious of anyone who comes and tells you their side or one side of a conflict, seeking your judgment or involvement. Such people usually tell you what they want you to know, which is probably only half the matter or maybe a good deal less. Exercise extreme care. A harsh, intolerant fleshly mind is in no position to act as critic. Such a person cuts others down to raise himself up, or to taste vengeance. Unfortunately, that may be exactly what he has on his agenda when he comes and tells you about the other person! Instead of getting involved, you could remind the person of Proverbs 19:11, the option of passing over an offense instead of prosecuting it, and of Matthew 18:15, the Biblical way to deal with personal offenses. This does not include gossiping, telling others - seeking their counsel and/or involvement. It is unrighteous to spread rumors and defame another person.

In the Old Testament, if someone was falsely accused, and it was discovered, then the penalty for the alleged crime was to be carried out on the false accusor. This certainly should serve as a deterrant to loose tongues.

Study the book of Proverbs and what it has to say about the tongue. You will find that there are scores of verses which indicate that a man's unguarded talk betrays the real man. Remember: hasty conclusions and a biased spirit reveal a warped, twisted and superficial heart. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34).

"There is nothing which most people pay less attention to than their words. They go through a day, speaking and talking without thought or reflection, and seem to fancy that if they do what is right, it matters little what they say." Give yourself the little three-way test before speaking about someone:

1. Is it true?

2. Is it kind?

3. Is it necessary?

"Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3).