Swallow That Gossip

"He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and
shame unto him." Prov. 18:13

Is passing judgment upon others ever the duty of a Christian?

Never, if it is prejudgment. If you come up with a verdict before
hearing all the facts of a case, then face it, you are prejudiced. If you only investigate
one side of the question, you are guilty of prejudiced investigation, which is twisting
the truth. Folly and shame are your rewards. If you have shown haste and prejudice in
judgment, regardless of who you are or what position you occupy in the church, you should
humble yourself, confess it as sin, and repent.

This has to do with gossip. Hold that juicy news you know about.
Swallow it. In many cases, silence is golden. "In the multitude of words there
wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10:19). If you
swallow it, you help keep it from spreading. And perhaps even better than swallowing it
would be to spit it out! In other words, you may even need to rebuke the person who spread
it to you!

This has to do with counseling. Don't start talking until you have
heard a person out. Give him an opportunity to share, then answer: Jumping to conclusions
is poor sport in conversation. It usually terminates the talk: Hasty chatter is foolish
and humiliating. A ready wit is for play and fun, but do business with solid judgment and
wisdom. Do not pass judgment until you are fully informed.

This has to do with criticizing, especially to third parties. Instead
of settling a problem by going to the other person, we make phone calls, write letters and
emails, and try to enlist the support and help of others. Forming a coalition may be good
politics, but it is not a Biblical procedure. If you are informed and asked to get
involved in a problem, remember: "The first one to plead his cause seems right, until
his neighbor comes and examines him" (Proverbs 18:17). Therefore, be especially
suspicious of anyone who comes and tells you their side or one side of a conflict, seeking
your judgment or involvement. Such people usually tell you what they want you to know,
which is probably only half the matter or maybe a good deal less. Exercise extreme care. A
harsh, intolerant fleshly mind is in no position to act as critic. Such a person cuts
others down to raise himself up, or to taste vengeance. Unfortunately, that may be exactly
what he has on his agenda when he comes and tells you about the other person! Instead of
getting involved, you could remind the person of Proverbs 19:11, the option of passing
over an offense instead of prosecuting it, and of Matthew 18:15, the Biblical way to deal
with personal offenses. This does not include gossiping, telling others - seeking their
counsel and/or involvement. It is unrighteous to spread rumors and defame another person.

In the Old Testament, if someone was falsely accused, and it was
discovered, then the penalty for the alleged crime was to be carried out on the false
accusor. This certainly should serve as a deterrant to loose tongues.

Study the book of Proverbs and what it has to say about the tongue. You
will find that there are scores of verses which indicate that a man's unguarded talk
betrays the real man. Remember: hasty conclusions and a biased spirit reveal a warped,
twisted and superficial heart. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth
speaketh" (Matthew 12:34).

"There is nothing which most people pay less attention to than
their words. They go through a day, speaking and talking without thought or reflection,
and seem to fancy that if they do what is right, it matters little what they say."
Give yourself the little three-way test before speaking about someone:

1. Is it true?

2. Is it kind?

3. Is it necessary?

"Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips" (Psalm