Gossip is a Deadly Poison
- September 05, 2017
- Ansley Rikard
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits”
I learned from an early age the great power my words have to shape the lives of others. In elementary school, I was caught gossiping about one of my friends, and I received the punishment that was due – a call home to my parents. I will never forget the shame I felt; it was sickening. The sin of gossip visibly entered my life back in 4th grade, and it has been one of my deepest struggles and greatest convictions since then.
Flash forward 11 years, and I am still struggling with loose lips and the taming of my tongue. Gossip creeps into friendships and corrupts Christian community. I am guilty of falling for the “I am just venting” lie and believing that I can excuse sin for the sake of my own comfort and a good laugh.
James writes extensively about the taming of the tongue. In James 3:9-12 it says, “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and saltwater? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”
The tongue is a restless evil. It is sick and deadly. Gossip is evidence of my own double-mindedness. Gossip devalues others, tearing people down in order to bring myself glory. James even compares the tongue to a small fire that can set an entire forest ablaze. There is great power in the tongue.
Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” Gossip is sweet to the lips. It is tasty, and it is addicting.
What I love about James 3 is that right after James discusses the power of the tongue, he jumps right into talking about wisdom. We cannot tame our own tongue apart from Christ. We must ask Christ for wisdom, but we must ask in faith (James 1:6), believing that Christ will give us wisdom from above.
Christ is faithful, and He has graciously granted me wisdom in my own life – it is a daily prayer of mine. It is because of Christ that I am able to discern and recognize gossip from other things, and it is by the grace of God that I am able to speak life and truth into people and choose my words in wisdom so that they may build others up. This is not to say that I do not struggle with gossip any longer. I, apart from Christ, cannot tame my own tongue. It is only through Christ, when I am reliant on Him, that my tongue can be tamed.
May your words be a fountain of life (Proverbs 10:11). May you be watchful and cautious of what falls out of your mouth, and may you be slow to speak (James 1:19). Ask Christ for wisdom, because He is faithful to graciously gift you wisdom from above and to help you tame your own tongue.