The Poison of Gossip – Part 1

In a book that I read titled Resisting Gossip, the author defined sinful gossip as “bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.” Though the sin of gossip seems pretty trivial, it is actually a sin that is both infectious and poisonous. It spiritually harms the gossiper, the one being gossiped to, and the one being gossiped about. This particular sin has the capability of ruining individual friendships as well as entire communities. It can separate close friends and it can also split churches in two. In all honesty, gossip is much like a small fire. Though it is small in its beginnings, it has the ability to set a whole forest ablaze.

Gossip is like Junk Food

Though gossip is both infectious and poisonous, we often find our sinful hearts eager to partake in this particular sin. Proverbs teaches us that our hearts are eager to participate in the sin of gossip because “the words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (18:8; 26:22). Choice morsels are like junk food – tidbits of unhealthy food that are easy to consume because they are so incredibly delicious.

So the words of gossip are like that bag of potato chips in our pantry, or that box of Sour Patch kids on our coffee table. We know that both potato chips and Sour Patch kids are incredibly bad for us. Whenever our eyes see them, however, it is not long before our palate begins to savor them. Self control and discipline become things of the past. And before long, our inmost parts feel the terrible consequences of such indulgence! And this is exactly how gossip is. Even though we know gossip is wicked and evil, our hearts love gossip. Gossip is delightful to the ears, rousing to the brain, and gratifying to the sinful flesh.

Who’s Guilty of Gossip?

First, the gossiper is guilty. This is clear throughout both the Old and the New Testament. The book of Proverbs constantly speaks of the evil of gossip (Prov. 11:13; 18:8; 20:19; 26:22). Throughout the Old Testament, gossip and slander are often used interchangeably. Within the New Testament, gossip is always listed within the sin lists (Ro. 1:28-32; 2 Cor. 12:20). And throughout these sin lists, gossip is always listed right next to slander. As you can see, the same sinful heart that leads to slander is the same evil heart that leads to gossip.

And secondly, the one gossiped to is guilty. Proverbs says, “Wrong doers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander” (17:4). Honestly, if wrong doers weren’t so eager to listen to gossip, then people wouldn’t gossip! In light of this, Spurgeon said, “In slander as well as robbery, the receiver is as bad as the thief. If there were not gratified hearers of ill reports, there would be an end of the trade of spreading them.” Thus, it is clear that those listening to gossip are in sin.

You May Be Gossiping If . . . .

First, you are gossiping if you are sharing inaccurate information about somebody else. So, if you are unknowingly sharing lies about somebody else then it is gossip. This means that you can genuinely believe that what you are saying is true. However, if what you are saying isn’t actually true, then you are still guilty of gossip. And if you are knowingly sharing lies about somebody else then it is slander!

Secondly, you are gossiping if you are sharing bad news about somebody else. This is when you are actually telling other people truthful things about another person that should not be told. So you are not spreading lies, but are speaking about truths that should only be known within a small inner circle of people. For example, a friend tells you that they committed sexual immorality with their fiancé. That information is to stay between the two of you. However, you, being eager to tell others, tell somebody else about it. This is gossip. And as the book of Proverbs says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (11:13).

Thirdly, you are gossiping if you are sharing bad news for somebody else. This is when you share bad news that should exclusively be for another person. For example, you overhear that Jane is going to divorce her husband because he doesn’t make her happy anymore. The husband has no idea that his wife is going to divorce him. And even though he does not know, you begin to tell other people. Before long, he is the only one that does not know about this bad news that should have been exclusively for him. This, too, is gossip.

Different Types of Gossipers

The Grumbler

“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Pr. 16:28).

The Hebrew word translated as gossip hear literally means a “grumbler or complainer.” These people gossip by grumbling. They are usually upset by something that somebody else said or did, so they seek to get other people just as upset at that person as they are. They usually cover up this type of gossip by saying, “I just need to vent,” or “I just need to get this off my chest.” Then they relentlessly spew out things about a certain person in such a way that other people will dislike them as much as they dislike them! This is the goal of the grumbler.

And make no mistake, this type of gossip has a profound impact on how others view the person they are gossiping about. Regarding this Bridges said, “The thought indulged only for a moment brings suspicion, distrust, coldness; and often it ends in the separation of chief friends.” The people we gossip to may never view the person we gossip about in a favorable manner ever again. That is a scary thought. Personally, I think that this is the type of gossip that we, as Christians, struggle with most.

The Spy

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Pr. 11:13).

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much” (Pr. 20:19).

The Hebrew word translated as gossip here literally means “an informer or peddler of secrets.” These people are spies. They listen to each conversation, gather in a great deal of information, and then use this information to their own advantage. This is what spies do, right?

Spies accumulate vast amounts of information on both friends and foes because they know that information is power. At some point, they know that they can wield the information they have accumulated to their own advantage. This is how these gossipers are. For them, knowledge is power. They gather in as much information about people as possible so that they can share this information to whomever they want whenever they want to their own selfish advantage.

The Backstabber

This type of gossiper is the one we usually think about when we think about gossip. This is the person that desires revenge. In their desire for revenge they begin to expose falsehoods and shameful truths about a person. They spitefully do this in order to damage the other person’s reputation as much as possible.

The Chameleon

If you know what a chameleon is then you know where this is going. A chameleon is a lizard that changes colors based on its environment. Therefore, a gossiper who is a chameleon is a gossiper that gets in on gossiping about a particular person simply because other people are doing it. In fear of losing people’s approval, the chameleon jumps in with a little gossip to win people’s favor. It is important to note that the chameleon can also be identified as an individual that is being entertained or laughing at certain gossip. So, they may not verbally say anything about a person, but they are still sinfully partaking in what is being said.

The Busybody

“But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (1 Timothy 5:11-13).

The busybody is the person that does not have any affairs of their own, so they get involved in the affairs of others. Rather than doing something that is profitable and useful, they simply make gossiping about other people their form of entertainment.

To Be Continued!

This blog was meant to make us aware of the sin of gossip. In my next blog I will address how we can put gossip to death. My hope is that these two blogs will aid us in a living in a manner worthy of the gospel. Click here to read the next blog!

We, Too, Shall Rise

Easter Sunday is quickly approaching. On Resurrection Sunday Christians all over the world are going to gather together to celebrate Christ’s glorious victory over death. In light of this, I just wanted to write a blog about how our resurrection is directly tied to the resurrection of Christ. In other words, because our Lord rose from the dead, we too shall rise from the dead.

This truth is seen throughout the Bible . . . especially in 1 Corinthians 15. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul even tells us what our resurrection bodies are going to be like Christ’s resurrection body – pretty awesome! Before we get to the description of the resurrection body, let’s look at the context of this great chapter.

The Problem

Some people within Corinth were denying the bodily resurrection of Christians. They were saying that Christ had been raised from the dead, but that Christians will not be raised from the dead. This is why Paul says, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:12)?

Those in Corinth could not wrap their minds around the fact that Christians are going to receive a physical resurrection body upon the return of Christ. This was probably due to the popular belief that a person’s spirit was good, but that a person’s body was evil. If they had this mindset then receiving a physical resurrection body upon the return of Christ would not make any sence to them. They were probably thinking, “Why have a pure spirit reunited with an evil body?”

The Argument

Throughout 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is destroying this unbiblical thinking. He begins by saying that the most important aspect of his teaching ministry was that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and then resurrected bodily (1 Cor. 15:3). Then he shows the Corinthians that many people witnessed Christ’s resurrected body (1 Cor. 15:5-9). He goes on to explain to them that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised from the dead. And if Christ has not raised from the dead, then everything we do is in vain (1 Cor. 15:12-19). What a dreadful thought!

Praise God that this is not the case though. Christ most certainly rose from the dead. And because He rose from the dead, we too will rise from the dead. He is the first-fruits of the resurrection. As the first-fruits of the resurrection, Christ received His resurrected body first. Those who are in Christ will receive a similar resurrection body later on (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Then Paul pretty much says, “Since my resurrection is tied to the resurrection of Christ, I risk my life every single day for Christ’s sake” (1 Cor. 15:30-34).

The Question

At this point in Paul’s argument, he is supposing that there is going to be some wise guy among the Corinthians that will ask a question saying, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come? How in the world does a rotten and decaying corpse resurrect? That would be a bit ridiculous and horrifying!” (1 Cor. 15:35). Even though these seem to be pretty legit questions to us, Paul thought differently. He basically responds saying, “You foolish person! This is not far-fetched, so quit talking like it would be! This kind of thing happens all the time. What you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Cor. 15:36).

A Lesson from Agriculture

Paul then begins to give the Corinthians a lesson in agriculture. He tells them to go to the farmer and watch him sow seed. The seed he sows goes into the ground, dies, begins to decay, and then, from that decay, becomes a beautiful harvest. Thus, that stock of wheat that sprouts from the ground comes from the seed you sowed. Paul’s striving to emphasize the continuity and difference of the sown seed.

There is continuity between the seed and the stock of wheat. That specific stock of wheat actually came from that specific seed you sowed! However, there is difference as well. That specific stock of wheat sure looks a lot different than the seed you sowed.

And this is how the resurrection body works. My current body is the seed, and the resurrection body is the body that will be upon the return of Christ. There will be continuity. I will be Philip. It will be this body that I am in as I am typing this blog. However, there will be a difference. My resurrection body will be way better than my current body.

A Lesson from Creation

After this, Paul tells them to look at the many different bodies that we see on a day to day basis. Look at the body of a human, the body of a fish, and the body of a bird. They all have different bodies. God does this intentionally and easily. Then Paul tells them to look at the stars in the heavens. Star differs from star in glory (1 Cor. 15:41). Some are big and some are small. Some are brighter than others.

Paul wants the Corinthians to understand that God gives different bodies for different reasons. He wants us to understand that this is how it is with the resurrection of the dead. The body that we are currently in is made for this world. However, God will give us another body upon the return of Christ. Though it will have continuity with this current body, it will also be different. The resurrection body will be made for the world that is to come. It is at this point that Paul explains how our current bodies are different than our future resurrection bodies that God is going to graciously give us – this is one of my favorite biblical passages!

1 Corinthians 15:42 “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.”

Our current body is a perishable body. The older you get the more this verse will resonate with you. Your hair-line begins to recede, your teeth begin to decay, and your bones begin to ache. Some of us will undoubtedly be diagnosed with a terminal disease that’ll makes our body wither like a fall leaf as it approaches winter. And even those of us who are healthy will inevitably breathe our last breath and be lowered six feet beneath the surface of the earth. Our bodies will continue to perish even after we die. Worms and maggots will treat our body like a five star buffet until nothing but our bones are left. This is how God has made these earthly bodies that we have. He has sown bodies that are perishable.

However, this perishable body will be resurrected as an imperishable body. It will be a body that will never notice the beginning of a receding hair line, and it will never feel the effects of a rotting tooth. This resurrection body will have ears that never lose their capacity to hear. You will never have to hear a doctor as he gives a diagnosis for a terminal disease. This imperishable body will never see a coffin again, nor will it ever have to frequent a cemetery. It will never have to mourn at the loss of a loved one. No, God is going to give us a body that will be imperishable. And after 10,000 years of enjoying perfect fellowship with Jesus and other believers on the New Earth in this imperishable body, we will look as we first did when we rose up out of the grave. As Spurgeon puts it, “In heaven every nerve of the new body shall cry, ‘Immortality.’”

1 Corinthians 15:43 “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.”

This body is dishonorable. Because of Adam’s sin, it has lost its state of honor and dignity. Just how dishonorable is this body? Think about this . . . God gave us this body to honor him, but we have used it to perpetually sin against him. In perpetually sinning against him, we waged war against Him with the very body he gave us. Then, while we were at enmity with him, God, in His great love for us, reconciled us to Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. And even after He justified us, adopted us, and placed His Holy Spirit in us, we still sinned against him. Then, after years and years of walking with Christ and progressively being made holy by the Spirit, we will continue to commit sins against our heavenly Father. Sadly, even up to the moment of death, we are going to be dishonoring God with some type of sin. As you can see, this body is sown in dishonor.

However, this dishonorable body is going to be raised a glorious body. Our resurrection bodies will be so glorious that we will never even conceive of sinning against our Heavenly Father or our blessed Savior. Instead of sinning, we are going to radiate with the glory of God. We are going to shine like the brightness of the sky above, like the stars in the heavens (Dn. 12:3). And like Christ said, we are going to shine like the sun in the kingdom of our father (Mt. 13:43). This dishonorable body that is destined to return to dust will one day rise up out of the grave like the morning sun in all of it brilliance. As John Newton says in his hymn:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years

Bright shining as the sun.

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Then when we’ve first begun.

1 Corinthians 15:43 “It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”

These bodies that God has sown are also weak. We get wearied and tired easily. We run a mile and are worn out. We put in a day’s worth of work and need to go to bed. We study for a test and we get mentally exhausted. Another aspect of this is that we seek to work hard, our bodies get tired, and we end up injuring something. We play baseball, get hit by a pitch, and end up bruising. And when we are near the end of this life, we are so weak that we cannot take care of ourselves. Other people have to tend to us. And the ultimate weakness of this body is most evident when we die, for we cannot even bury ourselves. Our family and friends must do it for us!

But these weak bodies that God has sown are going to be raised up as powerful bodies. We will be able to run miles upon miles without growing weary. We will be able to work for years upon years without growing faint. In all our endeavors, we will neither wear out nor rust out.

Our bodies will be able to do anything that our minds conceive of. If we look at the highest mountain and desire to climb it, our bodies will prove to be mighty enough to do it. If we look down into the deepest valley and desire to scale it, our bodies will prove powerful enough to do it. And after we do all that our minds conceive of, our body will be ready to go again. To a body that is raised up in power, exhaustion and fatigue will be a foreign concept.

1 Corinthians 15:44 “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

The bodies that we have now are natural bodies. They are like Adam’s body in every way. This means our bodies are made for this current earth. We could put it like this: these natural bodies we have are made for this natural realm that we are in. Though these bodies work for us here, they will not work for us in the life that is to come when we are on the New Earth.

Since this is the case, our resurrection bodies will be spiritual bodies. God will graciously give us spiritual bodies for the spiritual realm that we will be living in. Essentially, it will be like the resurrected body of Jesus Christ. Christ’s resurrection body was wonderful. He could eat and drink. He could touch and be touched. And he could also walk through walls and ascend into the heavens!

Now we do not know exactly how much our resurrection bodies will be like Christ’s resurrection body. Christ may be able to do more with his resurrection body than we will be able to do with ours. However, we do know with utmost certainty that our resurrection body will be like His to some extent.

This is the resurrection body that God has promised to his people. Therefore, if you are a child of God, this is the resurrection body that you are guaranteed by a loving God who cannot lie! With that in mind, think about this quote from Thomas Watson: “The body shall rise again; we are not so sure to rise out of our beds—as we are to rise out of our graves.”

Application

There are many ways to apply this. Paul applies this passage beautifully in 1 Corinthians 15:58 when he says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” In other words, if Christ is going to return, defeat death, and give us resurrection bodies then we should be overflowing in good works!

We can also get a good idea of how to apply this by looking at how this truth impacted Martin Luther during a significant trial he faced. Martin Luther, the German reformer, had a little 14-year-old daughter named Magdalena that he loved dearly. As a plague was making its way through Germany, Magdalena fell into its grasp. This was one of the lowest points in Luther’s life.

Watching his little 14-year-old daughter suffer from this deadly plague was hard. He was constantly petitioning God to take away her pain. And then, one day, the Lord ended her suffering by way of death. Luther’s Magdalena breathed her last breath, and she went home to be with her Heavenly Father. Her earthly father, however, was left to weep by her bedside.

Even though Luther was absolutely devastated, he still had an unshakable hope. And the unshakable hope that he had was grounded in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. When the carpenters were nailing down the lid of Magdalena’s coffin, he screamed, “Hammer away! On doomsday she’ll rise again.” Because of Christ’s resurrection, Luther knew that Magdalena’s cold, lifeless body would one day rise up an imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual body. As you can see, the resurrection of the dead changes everything!