We live in a culture that loves to dish the dirt on people. We have all seen the grocery store tabloids. Now there is tabloid television, online access 24/7 and apps to provide up-to-the minute news about the latest celebrity gossip.
But it is not only celebrity gossip that interests people today.
We live in a culture that is absolutely infatuated with dirty laundry on everyone.
People love to talk about people. The rumor mill never shuts down.
There does seem to be some confusion about the issue of gossip.
Isn’t it interesting that so many struggle to know if what they say is gossip, but it seems so easy to tell what gossip is when you are the one being gossiped about.
I have actually heard people say “Since it is true, it’s not gossip.” That comment reveals a poor understanding of what it means to gossip.
The Rev. Rick Warren provides a great definition of gossip: “When we are talking about a situation with somebody who is neither part of the problem nor part of the solution, then we are probably gossiping.”
Does that mean you cannot talk about a situation at work that involves another employee if they are not present? Is that gossip?
Not if you are trying to actually get to a solution that is good for everybody.
Motive is a major factor in determining the value of our conversation. What is behind the words that you speak?
Do you ever find yourself asking that question of others or of yourself? It is wise to consider the motive behind our words.
When it comes to motivation, I need to be willing to honestly answer some difficult questions.
Do my conversations make things better or are they about making me look better or to be really honest, is it about making someone else look bad?
Am I subtly gratified when I can point out the shortcomings or failures of others?
If the end goal of our conversation is not to help the person or improve the situation, then maybe our words would be better left unsaid.
The reason we need to carefully consider our motivation for the words that we speak is because our words are so powerful.
Words can do so much good, and words can do so much harm.
James is warning us that there are plenty of ways to make mistakes with our words.
Next week, we’ll check out three powerful metaphors he uses to get his point across. Until then …
You may read Steve Greene’s blog at pastorgreene.wordpress.com or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.