When my son was 9 years old I took him on his first mission trip.
By the time we arrived at the orphanage site he was already feeling sick. A bad batch of nachos and cheese was the culprit and by evening his stomach was in knots. I filled a small plastic cup with Pepto-Bismol and we headed outside. I told Jeremy that the stuff in the cup was medicine that would make his stomach quit hurting.
He looked at the pink liquid through tear filled eyes and told me he couldn’t drink it. I said, “Jeremy, one of two things will happen if you drink it: you will drink it and it will make you feel better, or you will try to drink it and you will throw up and then you will feel better.” I tried to sell it as a win/win situation and my son, even at the tender age of 9, was dubious. He took the small plastic cup and obediently brought it up to his mouth. As it touched his lips he projectile vomited with such force it made me proud as a dad.
When he was done, he looked at me and said, “You’re right dad. I do feel better”. I put my arm around him and we walked back inside. We talked about that experience just last week and he told me even after more than 25 years he still can’t drink Pepto-Bismol.
Gossip is defined as, “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people.” Gossip is one of the non-serious sins. Talking about what someone else has done doesn’t seem that bad. And since we can’t see the person’s face we are talking about, it makes it easier to be as cruel as we want to be. Social media has given us a new avenue for this particular sin. There are groups formed just for gossip where there are unconstrained conversation or reports about other people.
I wish gossip worked like Pepto-Bismol worked on my son. I could tell you, “Go ahead and start talking about that person you are angry with and once you get it all out you will feel better. Your anger will disappear and you will be kind and compassionate again.” But it doesn’t work like that. Every time I gossip I get sicker. I become less compassionate, less kind. And that’s probably why God has been against gossip in the first place. It may not be that God wants to protect the person you are so angry with or disappointed in. It may be that he wants to protect you from becoming the kind of person that others will one day form groups to talk about behind your back.
The Psalmist seemed to have plenty of people with whom he was frustrated with. We know that because he talked to God about them. Why don’t we all try that instead and then maybe we will look up to God afterward and say, “Hey, dad, you were right. I do feel better.”