James 1:26 NIV
James dedicates an entire chapter of his book to the tongue. He speaks about how the words we use can ignite a whole fire (take a look at James 3:5). It’s important for us to be careful of the words we use, the tone we are speaking in, and the types of conversations we participate in. We know our words should be encouraging and life-giving, so when we gossip about others we are not using our words in the way God wants us to be using them. We can’t say we are following God, and then allow ourselves to be drawn into gossiping. Spreading gossip is not positive, encouraging, or life-giving. It tears people down, regardless of whether it’s true or not. The Bible says: ‘A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends’ (Proverbs 16:28 NLT). Gossip doesn’t just tear the person we are talking about down, it tears down friendships and relationships. But we are called to live in unity and peace with each other. Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to ‘be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you’ (2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT). And the same is true for us. We might not think that gossip is a big problem, but James writes: ‘Those who…do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless’. When we gossip, we are undermining the faith we have. So how can we avoid gossip? Perhaps we need to distance ourselves from those who want to gossip, walk away or change the subject when someone starts spreading gossip, and pray that God will help us see the importance of speaking encouraging words to others.