Harmless gossip? Never
Amongst all the big news items like LibDem resignations and minor collisions on the runways of Heathrow, i spotted a little news item which merely goes to confirm what we’ve always known: mud sticks. And it sticks even if that mud doesn’t actually exist. It seems some scientists in Germany & Austria have been conducting experiments about how gossip and reputations are formed in human collaboration.
It reminds me of an old talk illustration.
A minister had been the victim of some malicious gossip by a young man in his congregation. When the truth came out, the minister asked the man to meet him with a copy of the day’s newspaper. He said that he forgave him and that they could be reconciled. But first he wanted him to understand what he had done. First he was to tear up that day’s newspaper into tiny little shreds and place them in a box. Then they climbed the church tower. When they got to the top, he instructed the gossip to empty the box over the side. And the thousands of shreds were carried off in a million directions.
‘Now – i want you to go and retrieve each piece.’
‘I can’t do that – they’ve gone everywhere.’
‘Exactly. Now you begin to see the damage you’ve done.’
Yet again, the Bible was right all along. The book of Proverbs has so much to say on the matter:
- A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. (Proverbs 11:13)
- A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. (Proverbs 16:28)
- The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. (Proverbs 18:8)
- A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. (Proverbs 20:19)
- Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. (Proverbs 26:20)
Who says the Bible isn’t relevant?