Gossip vs. the gospel

With simple directness, the Scriptures state, ''Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people.''n1

n1 Leviticus 19:16.

While Bible scholars tell us this passage is referring to personal slander, couldn't the rule against talebearing point as well to the overall need of watching what we talk about and communicate to others? Doesn't it remind us to stop the tendency toward idle gossip and rumor spreading?

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Certainly the motive for thoughtless chatter may not be as malicious in the case of gossip as it is with slander, but the end results can be equally devastating to others.

Gossip is usually highly personalized talk not based on definite knowledge or factual information. Gossip would make mere hearsay appear to be truth. But even beyond that, and in a deeper sense, doesn't gossip distort, reverse, deny, the truth of God and His creation?

The very first chapter of the Bible puts on record this truth. It reveals one God, one creative Mind, who is limitless good - everything God made He saw as ''very good.'' It states that He created man in His image and likeness. It implies that the very purpose of creation is to glorify God.

We'll be greatly blessed as we actively seek and cherish evidence of this divine reality in our contacts with the world. For the fact is that expressing the qualities of God is the full-time occupation of man. Realizing that man is actually God's totally good offspring, we'll be responsive to, and interested in , only what is productive and beneficial to all. Isn't the realization of this truth a practical defense against the dangers of uncontrolled gossip?

For gossip of any kind to function, it has to be believed and circulated. Long ago, I made it a habit to question information coming to me by using this standard: ''If you can't say, 'Thus saith the Lord' to it, what is being voiced is not credible. It is in no way related to God, so drop it!'' We can refuse to pass on evil reports about our neighbors, resisting whatever would blind us to the facts of spiritual being - perfect God, perfect man, perfect creation. Of course, this doesn't mean that we should ignore evil, close our eyes to the ills that need healing. But it does mean that we have an obligation to avoid unnecessary, unproductive, and downright harmful chatter about evil.

Certainly, the misinformation circulated about our Master, Christ Jesus, was about as far as you could get from the actual truth. Jesus gave mankind the gospel of repentance, redemption, healing, salvation. (That word ''gospel'' literally means ''good news.'') He was the purest man on earth. Yet some elements of society felt that the Master was a drunkard and sinner. Christ Jesus was appointed by God to show us the way out of evil with all its fabrications, yet the gossipers said that he healed through demonology, and they sought to kill him for breaking what they interpreted as Hebrew law.

But were any of these perversions of truth really God-related? Were they able to wipe out the gospel of pure Christianity or its uplifting influence on civilization? No!

There is a world out there facing serious and complex problems. But these problems are not going to be resolved through the circulation of godless slander , gossip, or sensationalism. God is totally good, All, and man's purpose is to actively bear witness to this fact. These truths, cherished and lived, can bring to light solid solutions - on the small and on the larger scale. But in order to be faithful to the harmonizing truths of God and man, we need to keep a constant vigil over our thoughts, tongues, and actions. This requires work, and this work begins in the mental realm with earnest, Christian prayer.

''People with mental work before them have no time for gossip about false law or testimony,''n2 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Being more consistently obedient to the spirit of these words leads to a growing immunity from gossip and brings the good news of the gospel into our lives.

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 238.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thou shalt not bear false withness against thy neighbor. Exodus 20:16

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