Today (01/19/2020) I taught the Bible class I attend at the Sunset Church of Christ. We are studying from a study guide by Scott Franks called, Practical Proverbs. My assigned topic was “Gossip.” Below I have reproduced the handout I provided to the class, but will first give a few guiding principles on why I developed the class topic as I did.
- First, it was important to cover the basic material provided in Practical Proverbs, since this was my assignment. This meant defining “gossip” and “slander,” show how Proverbs and other Scriptures condemn their practice, discuss the two dangers of gossip given by the author and emphasize how to keep ourselves from participating in such activity.
- I felt it important to remind our class of what Proverbs (the book) is all about, repeating some of the material covered two weeks before by our teacher in that class session by defining “proverb” and “wisdom.”
- It was also important for me to be fair with our text (the book of Proverbs) by briefly showing that gossip and slander were only a part of one of the bigger topics in Proverbs of how the mouth can be used for either good or ill. Therefore, I provided the class with a brief summary of the book’s teaching about our words and our mouth.
- No part of Scripture stands alone, and that is true about the teaching in Proverbs about our speech and the tongue, so I included some brief examples on this same subject by the Psalms, Jesus, Paul, Peter and James.
- At the conclusion it was important to emphasize again how wrong gossip and slander are, how they reflect what is in our hearts, and how our Lord has told us we will have to answer to Him in judgment for the words we speak.
Gossip & Our Mouth
- Solomon composed 3,000 proverbs (I Kings 4:32), over 500 of them found in our Book of Proverbs. These plus collected wisdom from other ancients make up this book.
- I recommend Charles Speer’s Wisdom Literature Study Guide for its great introduction and overview of Proverbs.
- Proverbs is arranged using a similar Hebrew poetic form to what’s found in the Psalms and some other Old Testament books – short pithy two-part sentences with the second half either amplifying or providing a contrast to the first half.
SPEECH AND THE TONGUE IN PROVERBS:
- Our words can be constructive and positive:
- Good words – 10:11, 20-21; 12:25; 16:24
- Timely words – 15:25, 28; 25:11
- Appropriate, thoughtful words – 10:19; 13:2-3; 15:1-2; 17:27-28; 21:23
- Or, our words can be destructive and negative:
- Lying – 6:17-19; 10:18; 12:22; 26:24-28
- Cursing – 20:20; 30:10
- Flattery – 6:24; 7:21; 26:28; 29:5
- Gossip & slander – 10:18; 11:9, 13; 16:27-28; 17:9; 18:8; 25:9-10; 26:20-22
- Not only Proverbs talks about the negative impact of our speech and mouth:
- The Psalms – Psalm 19:14; 34:13; 39:1; 120:2; 139:4; 141:3
- Jesus – Matthew 12:36-37; 15:11, 18-20
- Paul – Ephesians 4:25, 31; 5:3-4; Colossians 3:8; 4:6
- Peter – 1 Peter 2:1; 3:9-11; 14-16
- James – James 1:19, 26; 3:1-18; 4:11
GOSSIP AND SLANDER:
- Alternative words used in some translations: whisperer, talebearer, busybody, backbiting
- Common English definitions which roughly fit the Biblical use of the words:
- Gossip – sharing negative and usually inaccurate or false information about someone without their knowledge and with hurtful intent. To this I would add that all talking about others which involves either divulging privileged or unflattering information is almost surely gossip as well! The old military adage applies here: “Loose lips sink ships.”
- Slander – making false statements or misrepresentations about someone which is damaging to that person and their reputation.
- In Proverbs the two words are used interchangeably – 11:13; 16:28; 18:8; 26:20
WHAT IS WRONG WITH GOSSIP AND SLANDER?
- Effects are uncontrollable as to who and how much it will harm – James 3:5-6
- Effects are long lasting, often to the grave and beyond!
- Is a sin – Romans 1:28-32. Look at the “company gossip and slander keep. Note that Paul says those who practice any of these things deserve death!
- Is unloving and unlike our model, Jesus Christ – 1 Corinthians 13 describes Christ-like love. Ephesians 4:22 – 5:4 tell us gossip and slander are part of the “old self” and cannot be a part of living a life of love.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:34-37)
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