I saw an old episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” where Sheriff Andy Taylor got into a discussion with his Aunt Bee about who gossiped more – men or women? Andy suggested that gossip is more natural for women who are not working and have more time on their hands.
Aunt Bee and her friends set out to show Andy the narrowness of his assumption. When a traveling shoe salesman passed through Mayberry, Aunt Bee hints that he is really a TV producer who is looking for new “talent” for an upcoming show. Word spreads among the men and pretty soon men (and in many cases their children) are stopping by the hotel for an impromptu audition with the TV man. Ultimately Andy and the men learn the man really is a salesman and actually send him out of town with his greatest sales of the quarter. The men (especially Andy) realize that gossip can spread among men as easily as it can among women.
Does gossip stop when it gets to you? Is one of your weaknesses a propensity to pass it on? Why are we so curious about what may or may not be happening to others? What is it that makes us want to tell someone as soon as we hear something “gossipy?”
I think part of it is because of how we are made. We like to share stories, good or bad, about our lives. Often the bigger tales are told again and again, and they become part of the culture of our family, campus ministry, church, even the marketplace.
A vacation mishap when the car broke down which left some fun memories while stranded; a teacher in high school who got on the news for saving someone in an accident; another who was dating another teacher and it ended rather messily; or one of the eligible young men in church who shows interest in the preacher’s daughter – before you know it, the church has them getting married before they even had a chance to date one another.
Read Titus 2:3-8.
The apostle Paul gave instructions to one of his young apprentices, Titus, about how to help women and men in his church to be effective, particularly as it related to their speech. Paul knew that, “A gossip betrays a confidence” (Proverbs 11:13) and urged Titus to teach and model proper speech in order to “build up others.”
That suggests gossip has an upside. Consider the rapid spread of news regarding a family in church having a health crisis, such as a death in their family, or bringing a baby into the world. Imagine how the formal or informal network gets started and soon others are making meals, offering support, care, and prayer. When a husband (or wife) loses a job, money and plates of food appear. A single mom in the congregation needs her grass cut, or a toilet fixed, and a handyman shows up to tackle the chores as a gift.
College is another place where gossip, or news, can spread like wildfire. As an imitator of Paul and Titus, how could you and your friends “use gossip” positively to show the love of Jesus? Who knows how God might use you to bring blessing to someone in need?
Live communally. Gossip is not always bad. Learn from Aunt Bee, Andy, and Titus and turn telling tales into acts of service.
Love is a verb,
©2016 by Mike Olejarz