There is a thin line we might say, between sharing news and gossiping.
However any distinction has largely disappeared in the world we live in, where gossip is like a
constant saliva dripping copiously from the mouth.
The increase of ways of communicating of course has given opportunity for its viral promotion.
To a large degree there is little to no integrity exercised when it comes to sharing information, with no empathy or concern shown towards the person being gossiped about.
THE DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF GOSSIP IS:-
casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true: he became the subject of much local gossip. (bold type is mine)
In my life with regard to all things – I try to have three imaginary drawers into which I place information, about any subject, person or given scenario.
The ‘I just don’t know drawer’, the ‘maybe – maybe not drawer’ – and the ‘I am convinced drawer’.
Concerning news about other people, the middle drawer is usually the fullest.
It is easy to conclude and form opinions without the full facts of the situation. Sometimes it is situations we cannot directly effect (e.g. world events in other places etc.). The only option open to us to effect situations and scenarios a lot of the time, is prayer.
When it comes to sharing news or information about people we know, within our own local, personal, social circle, there are two extremes to be avoided.
If we are to maintain a good conscience before God.
One extreme is to take on board everything and anything we hear through gossip.
Indiscriminately forming opinions and often adopting attitudes of abhorrence and rejection towards the person we have just heard information about.
This is often through gossip – that is, or is on – the verge of, being malicious.
And the other extreme is to fail to ‘speak up’ or ‘speak out’ and speak the truth, when it is required, for the benefit of others, for fear of speaking against something, it being perceived as criticism or judgementalism. Thus the truth doesn’t get spoken when it should.
For example – there can be an idea that the views of leaders should not be spoken against – but this becomes ‘never-ever’ spoken against, based on the idea that those in authority should not be questioned.
Whereas they too must be held accountable, and they are not always right.
It’s all to do with the state of heart in the person who is speaking against something they genuinely believe to be wrong. And there is always fair and proper procedure to be followed when there is a need to highlight something that is detrimental.
Constant backbiting and criticism based on false accusations and the like, are usually bed-fellows to unsubstantiated gossip, and it is so damaging.
A footnote to be added of course is ‘being quick to hear and slow to speak’ (James 1/19) is often the wisdom required in conflict situations, where a word in season is eventually required.
There is a verse that is a start for us in our quest for finding guidance for our actions:
I Thessalonians 5/21
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
This advice is given in the context of prophetic utterances in the church, but embraces the idea of the same spiritual discernment necessary in all contexts.
So much can fill our ‘certainty’ drawer – that just should not be there, – causing us to form opinions on half-truths and lies.
In a world that is guided by the inherent desire to sensationalise, and that feeds on controversy, let us ask for Grace to walk the narrow path of sound judgement (as in correct decision making and opinion forming).
Bearing in mind that someone is on the receiving end of our deliberations, who might not be as guilty as gossip has charged.
I Timothy 5/13
And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.