Hey Ya'll, Did You Hear About Pastor Taylor?

How do you know if something is gossip? Confusion abounds. Try to get two people to give you the same definition of gossip. It's near impossible.

In Christian circles we generally agree that gossip is bad and should be avoided. But what about "gossip" columns that serve as beneficial promotional mechanisms? People pay advertising dollars to appear in some columns. Gossip can be positive as the "buzz" that captures attention or sells products. Lots of churches try to create "buzz" about their events. This positive business aspect clouds the perception of gossip as something to be avoided, yet in Romans 1 backbiting/gossip is listed alongside pride and murder, demonstrating the seriousness of our words.

Clarification is needed. And with this in mind I offer these thoughts:

First, anything we say that is NOT TRUE about another person or organization is a lie, not gossip. To lie, intentionally or not, is worse than gossip. Even positive lies are bad. Maintaining this difference between lies and gossip will eliminate much confusion. If someone tells you I won ten million dollars in the lottery they are lying, not gossiping.

Second, anything we say that IS TRUE about another person or organization MAY be gossip if it meets one or more of the following conditions: 1) we can reasonably expect the statement will reflect negatively on the person or organization, 2) the matter is not previously known, or 3) we do not seriously intend to correct or improve the situation. It may be a fact that your neighbor's son was arrested last Friday night while dancing drunk on top of his car, but the people at your church don't know it and there is nothing to be gained by anyone if you tell them, even as a prayer request.

If you want a Biblical example I suggest Numbers 12. Miriam, the brother of Moses, is a prime example of true words gone bad. She wasn't lying, but her gossip garnered the correction of the Lord. And no, what I am sharing with you right now is not gossip because Miriam's example is given to us as a warning to avoid the harm associated with gossip. That makes this an exception :-) Hope this clears things up a bit.

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