I was shopping at Target earlier and walking towards the check-out I spotted two women, probably in their earlier 40s. They were impeccably dressed and adorned with nice jewelry, both had the latest style of haircut; the epitome of a woman secure and happy with herself. They were standing in the children’s clothing division chatting. And while I didn’t hear anything they said, I knew what they were doing. They weren’t just chatting, they were gossiping.
I was struck by how their eyebrows were arched, the faces animated in disbelief, their hands gestures exaggerated. But mostly I was stuck by what looked to me like judgment in their eyes. I saw one shake her head- it seemed in disappointment – while the other one continued to share what she knew.
Why do I knew these two women were gossiping? Because I’ve been there. I’ve done it countless times before. I’ve spoke with animation on my face and judgment in my eyes and voice as I shared a juicy piece of gossip about a mutual acquaintance. I mostly do it at work – where I have no strong Christian influence to keep me in check. (That is no excuse.) Thankfully I don’t work with too many people, so there isn’t much to gossip about.
The thing is, I know why gossip is often so tempting to us. It’s because we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, and when someone slips up when we haven’t, it feels good. It makes us feel better about ourselves – it’s almost about justifying our existence. If she’s busy doing that, then I’m good. I haven’t done anything near as awful.
One of the great things about being an adult – and a child of God – is that we’ve learned who we are. Many of us learn from our immature behavior and don’t do it again. We grow out of it. There are many others that don’t, of course, and these are the ones who who allow these thoughts to plague them, and fool themselves into thinking the only way to feel better is by picking and talking about someone else. But it doesn’t work that way. Never seek happiness in others, because you will always end up unhappy. You can only find happiness and a true sense of who you are in one thing – Christ.
I must remember to not discount my tongue as being just a “small” part of me – but a part of me that affects the rest of my soul, mind and spirit – and effects so many others around me.
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
-James 3: 5-10