We seem to have a basic need to talk. We love to say something. Some of our talking is constructive conversation; much of our talking is gossip.
Gossip = idle talk. Having nothing important to say, but feeling the need to say it anyway. Why engage in idle talk? First, if we’re talking, we somehow feel connected; we’re not alone; we’re not afraid. Secondly, if we’re talking, we’re not listening. After all, we’re the only one who has anything important to say — so why listen! Finally, as long as we’re talking, the power, the control is in our possession. Words, even idle words, give us power over the person we’re talking to. Gossip = rumor or hear-say. It’s telling a story or relating something about some person or event. We pass on rumors to others without bothering to check out the facts. Rumors are rarely based on factual, or correct, information.
What some have said about gossip and gossipers ——
“Nobody will keep the things he hears to himself, and nobody will repeat only what he hears, and nothing more.” … Seneca
“Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.” … Horace
“Of every ten person who talk about you, nine will say something bad; and the tenth person will say something good — but in a bad way.” …Rivarol
“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip, a quarrel dies out.” Proverbs
We tend to talk a lot! Cell phones are everywhere. But, how much of the talking and texting we do is so much idle talk, filler, un-important, better left un-said? We tend to talk: the men at the Coffee Shop engage in “man-talk;” while the women at the Beauty Salon engage in “gossip.”
What a difference it could make in this old world if we used our tendency to talk to talk about the truly important things in life: Talk about what a great God we worship and serve; talk about how Christ has saved us from all our sins; talk about what a wonderful guide we have in the Holy Spirit; talk about Christ, the Comforter, the Healer, the Prince-of-Peace, our Strength, and our Eternal Hope; talk about our hopes and dreams; talk about others in a positive tone; speak words of encouragement to build others up.
On that first Christmas morning in Bethlehem-town, what were the folks talking about?
Down at the Coffee Shop, the men were saying: “Mighty strange happenings going on! There were some shepherds in here earlier buying donuts and coffee — and they were all excited — talking about seeing a great light from Heaven, hearing an Angel Choir, and that a King would be born here in Bethlehem.” “ A king in Bethlehem? Nothing important ever happens in Bethlehem!” “Besides, who’d believe a shepherd; I think they were high on something.” “Say, did you hear about old Ezra, the Innkeeper? Some young couple from Nazareth came in late last night. He made them sleep in the barn back of the Inn. Probably saw they were poor. You know Ezra — no pay, no stay.” “Oh, and get this. Someone said they saw three kings from the East down at the stable.” “Nah! Not a chance! Everybody important stays in Jerusalem — nobody of importance would come to Bethlehem!”
While over at the Beauty Salon, the women were gossiping: “Let me tell you what I heard! Young couple from Nazareth came looking for a room; She’s plainly pregnant and the baby’s due any time. Ezra sent them to the barn!” “Yes, I heard that she had to walk all the way here; her husband rode on the donkey. Isn’t that just like a man!” “My sister from Jerusalem heard a rumor that King Herod was sending soldiers here to kill all the babies in town!” “You believe that? Nah, even Herod isn’t mean enough to do a terrible thing like that.”
There was a lot of talking going on all over town. But none of the men at the Coffee Shop went down to the stable to see if they could help out. And none of the women at the Beauty Salon went to see if the young mother needed diapers or extra blankets. So, none of them discovered the truth; none of them saw God’s Truth, lying in a manger.
There is room in life for some “good gossip!” Like those shepherds, we have some glorious “good news” to share! “We’ve a story to tell to the nations that shall turn their hearts to the right; a story of truth and mercy; a story of peace and light. We’ve a story to tell to the nations that the Lord who reigneth above has sent us his Son to save us, and to show us that God is Love!” We do have good news! Let’s not be ashamed or afraid to tell it!