Have you ever talked badly about someone behind his or her back? Have you ever tried to make it sound better by just “saying the truth” about that person, or starting your sentence with “Not to be mean or anything, but … ?” Maybe you weren’t the one talking, but agreeing or even just listening in?
This is gossip, plain and simple. Many try to weasel their way out of gossiping by saying something mean “out of love” or some other nonsense. The fact of the matter is that you are still speaking in a hurtful way about someone. There is no going around it.
We The Threefold Advocate are disappointed by the amount of gossip we hear at John Brown University. It is shameful that a Christian school is participating in such a hurtful and destructive act, and it needs to stop. It is pervasive: you hear it in the cafeteria, in the halls and in the dorms. It affects all kinds of people, even faculty and staff.
Everyone has heard the phrase, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This is a common saying that has biblical roots. Ephesians 4:29 says “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Our goal should be to build people up instead of tear them down or cause hurt. Even when we think our gossip is not harmful, it is. It is harmful to the people being talked about, as well as those doing the talking. It brings out unkind feelings, such as envy, pride, judgment and more. Oftentimes gossip is a result of judging other people without knowing their history or circumstances.
Maybe you have talked about how a girl does not dress modestly enough, or how socially awkward someone is. You may not know that the girl struggles with self-esteem and the other person has social anxiety. We don’t know people’s stories, and we have no right to judge them or talk badly about them to others.
Even when we include modifiers like, “I’m saying this out of love” or “no offense, but,” we are just making a pathetic excuse for our unkindness.
We The Threefold Advocate want you to ask yourself a question next time you find yourself talking about someone: is what you are saying positive or uplifting? Or would you be ashamed to say what you are saying in front of the person you are talking about?
Think before you speak. Consider the feelings of others. Eliminate the rampant gossip present at JBU.