The Power of a Woman's Words

Day 8 of 10 • This day’s reading


 King Solomon wrote, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8). Just as one tiny slug can destroy an entire flower bed, so can one tiny morsel of gossip destroy a person’s reputation, mar one’s character, and devour a friendship.

He also wrote, “Whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9 tniv).  What exactly is gossip? My dictionary defines gossip as “easy, fluent, trivial talk, talk about people behind their backs.” It’s repeating information about another person’s private affairs. If you have to look around to make sure that no one can hear what you are saying, you are probably gossiping. If you would not say something in front of the person you are talking about, then you’re probably gossiping.

We have often heard the phrase “knowledge is power.” Perhaps that is why gossip is so appealing. It suggests a certain amount of power because “I have the inside scoop.” But gossip is not power. On the contrary, it shows a lack of power . . . a lack of self-control.

But it takes two to tango the gossip dance. “Without wood the fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Proverbs 26:20). The Bible tells us to make every effort to avoid gossipers (Proverbs 20:19). A good rule of thumb is if you are not part of the problem or part of the solution, then keep the information to yourself.

Paul warned, “Some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people’s business” (2 Thessalonians 3:11 nlt). Other translations call such people “busybodies” (nasb, niv).

One day a woman felt overwhelmed with guilt for her years of malicious gossip. She went to the local priest and confessed her sin. The priest was all too aware of her wagging tongue and had experienced the sting of her words firsthand . . . or rather secondhand.

“What can I do to rectify all the damage I have caused with my gossip?” she asked.

“Gather a bag of feathers,” he began. “Then go around to each house and place a feather at their door.”

That seemed like a simple enough request, so the woman did just as the priest had instructed. After the task was complete, she returned. “I have done what you requested,” she said. “Now what am I to do?”

“Now go back and retrieve each of the feathers,” he replied.

“That is impossible,” the woman argued. “The wind will have blown them all around town by now.”

“Exactly,” replied the wise priest. “Once you have spoken an ill word, it drifts through the air on wings of gossip, never to be retrieved. God has forgiven you, as you have asked. But I cannot remove the consequences of your hurtful words or gather them from the places they have landed.”

Here’s an idea. If a friend approaches you with some “news” or a “concern” about another person, stop and ask, “May I quote you on what you’re about to tell me?” That will usually put a lid on the conversation before it even begins.

Lord, I know gossip must be a serious offense because You warn about it so many times in Your Word. I commit to not repeating a matter that does not concern me. Help me to steer conversations away from gossip when I see them going in that direction. Keep guard over the door of my mouth. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight. 

In Jesus’s Name,