In the movie Doubt, a preacher told of a woman who confessed her sin of gossip to her priest. The man told her to first go home, take a pillow up onto her roof, cut it open, and then return. She did as instructed. Then the priest asked her what she saw. “Feathers everywhere, Father.” He said, “Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out onto the wind.” She protested, “It can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.” “And that,” replied the priest, “is gossip!”
Every sin can be forgiven, but the effects of some sins can’t be corrected. Let’s say I gossiped to a female friend. Later, I can say I’m sorry for what I said and even ask her to forget it; but you can’t “un-ring a bell.” Every time she thinks of the man I talked about, there’s a good chance my words will come to mind and taint her image of him. And that’s the best-case scenario. More often than not, she’ll share my venom with one or two friends, who will share it with one or two friends, until many are poisoned.
Proverbs warns that gossip seems like fun, for “rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart” (18:8). But it needlessly ignites an uncontrollable fire, for harmful “words are a destructive blaze. A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends” (16:27-28).
Here’s a good rule of “tongue”: Say behind a person’s back only what you would say to his face. It’s better to swallow some thoughts than to regret sharing too much. Let’s avoid the painful truth of Proverbs 13:3 “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” —Mike Wittmer
No one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison (v.8).
What words do you wish you could take back? How can you limit their damage, and how can you prevent this from happening again?