by Clarence Johnson
King Solomon, the sage of Israel, wrote, “A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool's mouth is destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body'' (Proverbs 18:6-8). And again, “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends'' (Proverbs 16:28).
This truth has been recognized by many before and after Solomon. Friendships and family ties have been sacrificed at the altar of gossip. Even whole nations have been brought low by slander.
Each of us, at one time or another, has been the object of another's gossip. We know all too well the power of the tongue to hurt and destroy. Perhaps the gossiper needs to be reminded that “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap'' (Gal. 6:7). Perhaps that is why the wise man said, “whoever speaks slander is a fool'' (Prov. 10:18). Jesus Himself admonished, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them....'' (Matthew 7:12).
A good rule to follow when tempted to repeat a juicy morsel of gossip might be to ask one's self a few pertinent questions: (1) do I know this to be a fact, (2) would I be willing to put it in writing and sign my name to it, and (3) will those to whom I tell it be made better by this knowledge? If we cannot answer these questions in the affirmative, let us refrain from the temptation to ”tell all.'' If someone approaches you with a bit of slander, ask him to submit to this same three question test. If he “flunks out'' consider the source of that which you have heard, and pour cold water on the fire of contention.
“Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body'' (Proverbs 26:20-22).