“Did you hear that Jenny told Caty that Carla and Kathleen were mean and selfish? Yeah, can you believe that? I mean Jenny is best friends with Carla and Kathleen, at least she says she is. And then, Caty told Carla and Kathleen what Jenny had said about them, and now they are having a huge fight and Carla told Jenny they would never be friends again. Wow I’d hate to be in Jenny’s shoes right now, if my best friend said that about me, I’d never want to speak to her again.”
Does this sound familiar to anyone? This kind of gossip is probably very similar to things that go on in most kids’ lives. At least I know it is in my life. I can’t even begin to tell you the countless times I have sat around with a group of my friends and talked about the lives of other people I know. And why do we do it? No one really benefits from it, people only get hurt by it. I suppose a completely honest reason would be that it’s fun to discuss other people’s mistakes and know that they aren’t yours. We are able to feel better about ourselves by putting other people down, even though we know we have done things just as bad or worse. And let’s face it, I think most people hate being talked about, I know I do. Gossip can be so vicious, it becomes a scary thing.
When I was a freshman in high school I started hanging out with a group of older girls. I looked up to them and they were truly awesome to me and made me feel less like a stupid freshman than anyone else could. At the time I began hanging out with those girls, their friendships were falling apart, and fast. Gossip was a major part of it. They were telling lies and secrets and rumors about each other, behind their backs. It caused such a rift in the friendships that those who knew these girls were forced to take sides, including me. I would have some of them tell me certain things and then 20 minutes later the others would come and ask me what I had heard and then refute said rumors with their own. I know, it sounds like some television show about some kids living in California on a beach somewhere, but its not. It was my freshman year of high school. In the end of it all, I lost wonderful friends because I had to choose sides. The rumors and gossiping played a major part of the rift between my friends. So many people get hurt by gossip, and personally, I think it can be more hurtful than punching someone in the face. A rumor can make you see people totally differently, whether it is true or not.
I have been a Christian since, well, since I was born. I have gone to a Lutheran school my whole life, and have been around Christian people my whole life. And all the while, people have told me to; “be a good Christian, live for Christ, show His love in everything you do.” And I do love God and hope to do His works, as do my friends and the people I am around all the time. When you think about it, gossiping really isn’t so bad; I mean there are far worse things you could do, right? But God has other things to say on this matter. Gossip can destroy friendships, jobs, families, and other people’s lives. Many times in the Bible the tongue is referred to as one of the most deadly weapons. In Exodus 20 it very plainly states, “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” And in Romans 1:29b-32 Paul says, “They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Well it sounds to me as if God doesn’t really want us to be gossiping. As harmless as it may seem at the time, gossip is harmful and even deadly in some respects. If we are supposed to love our neighbors then we shouldn’t be sitting around talking about them behind their backs. That doesn’t exactly sound like love to me.
You know what does sound like love? “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10 reminds us that like all sins, Christ paid for the sin of gossiping on the cross. His love covers our sins and in response to His love, we want to love one another.
It’s probably something all of us need to watch, believe me, I know how easy it is to let a few little things slip and how simple it can be to get sucked into gossip. It can be very entertaining at the time, but what can happen after the fact can cause pain for others. I have seen it happen and I’m sure you have too. I know it’s not so easy to avoid. We see it happening all around us, but with God all things are possible, right? Seek His forgiveness for the times when you mess up and seek His guidance for help to avoid the temptation. He is a constant friend who will never desert you and in whom you can trust.
Amanda Mejia is a junior at Lutheran High School in St. Charles County, Missouri.