Bearing Tales to Others
Reading Psalm 15
I. Some sins are overt. They are clearly and obviously wrong. But other sins are subtle. We don’t realize that what we are doing is wrong.
A. Gossiping can be that way.
1. Oh, I’m sure we see that the loud-mouth neighbor on a TV sitcom is wrong. After all, the person is all but wearing a sign that says “gossiper.”
2. However, at times we get caught up in gossip without realizing what we are doing.
B. What is wrong with gossiping? It can’t be undone!
1. “The story is told of a small village in Eastern Europe. One of the men in the community had a dislike for leading man. He made it a practice to slander the wise man at every opportunity. Eventually, he had a change in heart. Feeling guilty at his lies and misrepresentations, the man presented himself to the wise man, admitted his error, and asked for forgiveness. The wise man considered the request for a moment and told the man to first go to the top of the highest hill and while there cut open a feather pillow and scatter its contents. “When you have done that,” he said, “return to me.” The penitent man did as he was told and returned to the wise man. “I’ve done as you asked,” said the former slanderer, “Am I now forgiven?” “Almost,” replied the wise man. “I only ask one more thing of you. Go and gather all the feathers up again.” “But that’s impossible,” cried the man. “They’ve been blown to the four corners of the earth!” “Yes,” said the wise man, “and so it is impossible to undo the damage you have done with your words, which never can be retrieved.”
II. Gossip is damaging
A. The righteous does not slander (speaks maliciously about another) - Ps 15:1-3
B. Our speech is suppose to be edifying – improving others - Eph 4:29, Rom 15:2
C. It is the scoundrel who digs up evil to accuse - Pr 16:27–28
D. It is also damaging to the gossiper - Ps 101:5
III. Gossip is unconfirmed
A. Demetrius spoke falsely about John (means bring unjustified charges or unfounded rumors) - III John 10
B. Speaking truth in love - Eph 4:15
C. One writer said, “Digging for the facts is better than jumping to conclusions.” However, people prefer to jump because it involves less effort.
IV. Gossip is unkind
A. Pr 25:23 - This is the secret gossiper and the result is always anger
B. II Cor 12:20 - It is associated with all sorts of discord
1. It is to be put away and replaced with kindness - Eph 4:31-32
C. Talking about things that are not proper to mention - I Tim 5:13
D. We are not to speak evil of no one - Tit 3:2
1. This is not to say that we cannot approach someone about their sin
2. Notice that then the objective is to improve, not to destroy.
3. Notice that no one else was brought in to the matter.
E. Speaking truth in love - Eph 4:15
F. The golden rule - Matthew 7:12
V. Ways gossiping is perpetuated
A. Most of us have mental images of the gossiper leaning over the back fence loudly whispering shameful things about other people
B. But it can be found in other forms. Some people tend to think that thinks written are true. While the written word was once more carefully considered than the spoken word because it took longer to produce, it did not always mean it was true.
C. Today, with the Internet and e-mail, people can spread the written word faster than it can be spoken. Too often, people resend what they receive without ever checking to see if it was true. Well, it came from brother So-and-So and I’m sure he must have checked. The problem is brother So-and-So didn’t check because he got it from a brother he trusted, and so on.
D. Here is an example:
1. In 1996, Procter & Gamble filed a lawsuit against Amway Corporation and some of its distributors for spreading rumors to the effect that P&G is affiliated with the Church of Satan.
2. It seems people in Amway were repeating statements from a flyer that has been circling the globe for years via fax, mail, and now e-mail. The rumors it contains have existed for the better part of twenty years and continue to run rampant despite P&G’s best efforts to combat them.
3. Here is one e-mail that has been circulating:
PLEASE MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The president of Proctor & Gamble appeared on Phil Donahue Show on March 1, 1994. He announced that due to the openness of our society, he was coming out of the closet about his association with the church of Satan. He stated that a large portion of his profits from Procter & Gamble products goes to support this satanic church. When asked by Donahue if stating this on TV would hurt his business, he replied, “There are not enough Christians in the United States to make a difference.
[The e-mail goes on to list P&G products, alleges that an P&G emblem of a ram’s horn forming the number 666 will soon appear on its products, and calls for support from Christians in boycotting P&G. To further bolster its appearance of truth, it suggests sending $3.00 to the Phil Donahue show, giving its address, for a transcript of the show.]
4. How many people do you think bother to check? You see the president of P&G never appeared on the Donahue show.
April 5, 1995
To Whom It May Concern
It seems impossible that the rumor of an appearance by the president of Proctor & Gamble on Donahue is still circulating after more than a decade. There is absolutely nothing to this rumor.
The president of P&G has never appeared on Donahue, nor has any other P&G executive.
Anyone who claims to have seen such a broadcast is either mistaken or lying. It never happened!
5. There are plenty of hints in the letter that the contents must be false.
a. There is no single owner of Procter & Gamble who can decide what to do with the company’s profits – let alone tithe it to a satanic organization. P&G is publically owned and the profits go to shareholders.
b. The figureheads of a large, successful company would never publicly claim to follow Satan, even if it were true. It is called bad public relations. People don’t become presidents of major corporations by being morons.
c. There are no symbols of a ram’s horn on P&G products.
6. Why does it continue to circulate?
a. It was designed to stimulate the fears of a particular group of people, in this case devout Christians.
b. People who believe in the existence of Satan and understand the battle between the forces of good and evil are predisposed to think it is plausible that the president of a powerful, respected corporation would proudly announce on TV that he’s the minion of Satan.
c. People don’t check!!!
7. It is not the cost of the mail or e-mail or our time that we are wasting. We are wasting our credibility. If people think Christians are stupid enough to fall for this falsehood, perhaps they are gullible enough to fall for that resurrection story.
E. Brethren, your reputation is on the line every time you tell someone something you know or when you copy an interesting story to your friends.
F. Always, always, always make sure you are speaking the truth in love – Is it true, is it for the benefit of everyone involved, and does that person need to know.
G. Psalm 39:1