Gossip…..It is almost a humorous thing in our society. The visible Christian church finds it much easier to turn a “blind eye” to it because, as one pastor told me, “I’ve got much bigger 'fish to fry' in the congregation.” Wow….The 8th Commandment is stomped on, spit on, and ridiculed but the clergy, in general, are so busy dealing with “important” things like adultery, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and divorce that they, too often, ignore this horrendous sin.

“Horrendous ?!!”, you may say, “That is going over the top, pastor!” Oh really? There was a lady in my first congregation that was known as the “town gossip”. I did not have first-hand knowledge of it until another parishioner came to me, sobbing. Her reputation had been torn by the gossiper and the tale the gossiper had told was terrible! (And not true….) I confronted the gossiper; telling her what a wicked sin it was and that she must “repent” or I would, as her pastor, NOT give her Holy Communion and eventually see that she was excommunicated! She angrily responded, “Just WHO do you think you are ?!”. I clicked the clergy tab on my clergy shirt and said, “I am your pastor. A man of God called by him to this congregation.” After missing a Sunday, the following one she sheepishly came to worship and asked to talk to me “in private” where she cried, asking for forgiveness. I absolved her in Christ. She stopped gossiping.

Although it might “feel good” to gossip and we might have a tendency to condone it because we perpetually see it daily in the news, hear it from our neighbors, etc., we must ask, “Is it really a ‘sin’?” Short answer: Yes. Saint Paul says that gossipers are those with “a debased mind….deserving death.” (Romans 1: 28-29)(N.A.S.V.). “From such people turn away!” the apostle says in 2 Timothy 3:5. Solomon says that we should “not associate with them.” (Proverbs 20:19).  Gossip is a sin that tears down a neighbor and makes the bearer of such slander a questionable, at best, witness for Christ.

Rather, let us uphold the 8th Commandment, putting the best construction on what our neighbor does (as difficult as it is, sometimes) and remember that God calls us, as Christians, not what we are according to our flesh but, by His grace, His “salt and light”(Matthew 5: 13-14), His “children” (John 1: 12), His “friend” (John 15:15), His “temple” (1 Corinthians 3: 16), His “saints” (Ephesians 1: 1), etc.. May those Gospel descriptions empower us to kindness and the desire to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) the next time we are tempted to gossip. May our mouths be fountains of grace and concern for our neighbor’s soul. Such was the mindset of our Savior for us. Indeed….In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Pastor William C. Mack
Christ the Rock Lutheran Church