Proverbs 11:13 – A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. (NIV)
Proverbs 16:28 – A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. (NIV)
Proverbs 26:20 – Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. (NIV)
Chance likes to bark. Unfortunately, he barks far too often. Instead of using his voice to let us know when an intruder is on the property or to say hello or good morning, Chance barks just to hear the sound of his own voice! This incessant barking is most annoying, not only to me, but also to the other dogs, which has provoked a fight or two when patience wears thin. It also creates a ripple effect, as all the dogs get to barking, which in turn sets all the neighbourhood dogs to barking.
When Chance first came to us from the animal shelter, I tried speaking sharply to him about the inappropriate barking, then came the spray bottle, all to no avail. After all, he is already eight years old, and ingrained habits die hard.
Finally, I decided to dig out the shock collar. This is a collar which gives a dog a small zap of electricity caused by the vibration created when he barks. Much like a static electrical shock one would get when walking on a carpet in dry conditions and then touching another person or object, the zap makes one jump. Though it doesn't actually hurt, it is enough to make one want to avoid getting zapped again. Fortunately for Chance, it didn't take too many zaps for him to get the message!
Gossip is a lot like Chance's inappropriate barking. It creates fights and alienation among friends, neighbours, co-workers, and family members. It has a ripple effect which grows wider every time the gossip is passed along. It hurts both the gossiper and the one the gossip is about. Gossip is a misuse of our communication abilities; it is negative, rude, hurtful, and disrespectful. It can also fast become an ingrained habit which dies hard.
In light of today's verses from Proverbs, as Christians, I don't think any of us would say that we want to be gossips. So let's ask God to zap us with the conviction of His Holy Spirit if and when we are tempted to be just that — a gossip.
Prayer: Father God, bless us with hearts this day that are open to Your will and way, especially in regards to our communications. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, that we may be trustworthy, known as good friends and peacemakers. In Christ's name, we ask. Amen.