Do you remember the game telephone? I loved this game! The teacher would pick out a funny phrase and whisper it in the ear of the person closest to her, then it would go down a line of giggling children until it came to the last child who then had to relay the message. It was never the same as it started and I remember as a child thinking how funny this was. Often kids would just make up a new phrase, a funnier phrase, and usually when it came time for the last kid to tell the message, they were laughing so hard you couldn’t even understanding what they were trying to say.
As an adult, I understand what this game can teach us. So often we do not hear the whole story and yet we believe news that comes to us second, third, or fourth hand. Usually we see gossip start in middle school. I really feel for these middle schoolers who are trying to figure out who they are, but there are so many bullies out there and now even cyber bullies who say things that are not true to ruin a person’s reputation.
Gossip gets even worse when we attend high school because there is more at stake. I think the movie “Mean Girls” was such a huge success because so many high schoolers and teachers could relate to the gossip culture of high school. Gossip doesn’t stop when we leave high school does it?
Sadly, gossip happens in the office, in the home and even in the church. In fact, some of the most damaging gossip can happen in the church causing people to never come back again because they have been so hurt.
We see that James warns the early church of the importance of their words. In James 3: 6-8 he says:
“6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature,* and is itself set on fire by hell.* 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
That is quite a warning from James, and he is right in telling us to safeguard our tongues because so often our words can pierce others so deeply.
Our “Wesley Challenge” question for this week is “Am I a Gossip?” Come and hear more about this topic on Sunday!
Prayer: Gracious God, guide my words that they may be agents of peace and not war; that they would build up the body of Christ, and not tear it down; that they would encourage and not discourage others; that they would convey words of hope and not be agents of spiritual death. Bless my words and my actions this week, Almighty God, so that I can reflect the love of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. It is in his name we pray. Amen.