In Proverbs 18:21 we learn that the power of life and death is in the tongue. With our words we can either build someone up or tear them down.
I thought about this verse last week as I was reading Sheri Rose Shepherd's book of random thoughts, Fit for Excellence. Shepherd describes three types of gossip: "general gossip", "silent gossip" and "godly gossip". Surely, we've all been guilty of at least one of these. I know I've participated in all three forms at one time or another.
In this post, I'll address the first form of gossip: "general gossip". "General gossip", says Shepherd, is the kind of gossip that takes place when we gossip about people, groups or churches that we don't personally know. A perfect example of this kind of gossip is the publicity surrounding "Octo-Mom". Even before this poor woman's entire life history was made international news, many people were forming opinions and stances regarding her situation. My question during this entire spectacle has been, "why is it any of our business?"
No matter how anyone feels about the issues of public assistance, reproductive assistance or single motherhood, the truth is that no one really knows all the details and truths surrounding this woman except for her. Furthermore, why has no one focused on the positive and miraculous in this story? According to all known records, this group of babies has survived the longest of all octuplets ever born! That is something to celebrate!
This kind of "general gossip" has no place in the hearts or the speech of Christians. Forming opinions about people with whom we have neither a personal relationship nor a full knowledge of their situation is judgemental and immature.
As Shepherd states, "Unless we are part of the problem or the solution, our concern should always be to build up the body of Christ, whether we know them personally or not!" (Shepherd, 137).