Gossip: A Poem

Little fires
I heard…
she said that he said
I would never
Look at that forest ablaze

Little daggers
did you know?
I can’t believe it
I just know it to be true
How deep those wounds go

Little morsels
they go down sweet
it was just talk
it meant no harm
Not all poison is bitter

Little words
little lies
little breaches of trust
little curses
Sticks and stones and words whispered

Little tongue
what proceeds is from the heart
What will ours be?

How difficult the tongue is to tame. It’s no wonder James warns us of its power. Gossip is among the most divisive, nefarious sins, and sadly its one we often justify. We justify not speaking up when others do it for fear of being seen as “self-righteous” or rejected; we take part in it: whether about celebrities or our own co-workers, friends or brothers and sisters in Christ; and we start it: to justify our feelings when we perceive being wronged, to feel accepted or funny or important. We use our tongues as flatterers, slanderers, liars, and gossips, the very same tongues we use to sing praises to our God. The way we speak about others is less indicative of them, however, and far more revealing to the state of our own hearts. Are we bitter, jealous, and petty? Or are we gracious, truthful, and humble?

What if, instead of accepting gossip as just another part of life, we repented, and held one another accountable? What if we were known as a people who spoke honestly, and resisted the temptation to speak in secret about others? What if we took seriously this command that God has given us? What if we really believed God when says his Spirit brings the fruit of self-control, even self-control that can stop our tongue before it speaks poison? What if we sought to tame our tongues?

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body,sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

James 3:3-6

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