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August - September 2023

Consequences of the Unbridled Tongue on Family Life


I have been greatly troubled in recent times by the effects of unbridled speech. It is so sad to see the wreckage often left behind by gossip.

The writer of Proverbs reminds us of the power of words. “Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose.“ (Provers 18:21 NLT)

The choice is clearly ours: To bring a healing presence or bring more strife. I’m sure you will agree with me that our families need more healing. Individuals, families, Peoples, and nations need deliverance from the pervasive and destructive impact of gossip.

Stop and consider the effect of your words on members of your family. Are you a builder or a wrecking ball in your family, or do you know of a family member that needs help to heal?

"Irresponsible talk makes a real mess of things, but a reliable reporter is a healing presence." (Proverbs 13:17 MSG)

The Bible does not treat gossip with kid’s gloves, and neither should we.

Where does gossip come from and why do we indulge in it?

Its origin is pre-historic (read Ezekiel 28:12-18), and the impact remains the same: It brings down the peddler and those that give heed to its merchandise. It is often symptomatic of deep emotional or relational issues.

  1. Low Self-esteem and insecurity: Insecure people get some sense of satisfaction from blabbing about others because putting others down gives them a temporary sense of power or superiority.
  2. Jealousy and envy: There are those who find it abominable to celebrate other people’s achievements. They occupy themselves with diminishing others’ accomplishments.
  3. Lack of respect for privacy: Lack of understanding of the difference between a matter of public interest and a matter in the interest of the public often blurs the boundaries of decency and disregards the consequences of spreading private information.
  4. Thrill-seeking and boredom: Idle mind is truly the devil’s workshop. The need to fill voids in the soul often predisposes people to the snares of tittle-tattle. For some, the necessity for connection and social bonding sends them down to the pits of gossip. In so doing, they turn innocent and unsuspecting people to targets for cruel archers.
  5. Poor Communication Skills: The inability to address conflicts or express personal feelings directly often lead people to resort to gossip as a means of venting frustrations or seeking validation from others.
  6. Negative home environments:A home very quickly turns toxic when gossip is tolerated, especially when parents are the principal peddlers. This situation arises when conflicts are mismanaged, power tussle ensues, and couples start seeking support from their children through private briefings.

Let’s consider some consequences of gossip:

  1. Gossip is divisive and creates barriers to effective and healthy relationships (Proverbs 16:28): Gossip undermines trust and strains family and community bonds.

  1. Reputational damage (Proverbs 11:13): Revealing secrets, exposure to shame and humiliation undermines a person’s reputation. The consequences can be long-lasting on the victim’s health, professional life, and standing in the community.
  2. Gossip desecrates God’s Commandments: Gossip smacks in the face of God’s commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), and the Golden Rule of treating others as we will have them treat us (Luke 6:31). Gossip strips people of the respect, kindness, and dignity that God commands for all.
  3. Gossiping is perverse (Proverbs 16:28), sowing discord and strife: Fanning the flames of discord among friends and family is one of the things the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:19).
  4. Gossip is a perversion of God’s gift of speech: We are called to bless and not curse, to encourage and uplift others, not to tear them down. Ephesians 4:29 says “Let no harmful word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for building others up according to the need, so that it gives grace to those who hear it.” (TLV)
  5. Gossip opposes God’s work of reconciliation: God’s desire for us to dwell in harmony is greatly undermined by gossip. Believers in Jesus Christ are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation, and partners with God in creating harmony (2 Corinthians 5:18). Gossip does the contrary by creating barriers and engendering hostility. It directly works against the unity and healing that God designed for His people (Psalm 133:1-3)
  6. Gossip is a contradiction of God’s character and it is very displeasing to Him: Gossip runs in direct opposition to God’s character of love, truth, dignity, justice, purity, and virtue (Philippians 4:8). Sowing discord is on God’s hate list of detestable conducts (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  7. Gossip negatively impacts the personal character of gossipers: Gossip is a double-edged sword that impacts both the gossipers and their victims. It tarnishes the integrity of the gossiper by revealing them as people lacking in self-control and having a heart that is not conformed to God’s principle of prudence (Proverbs 10:19).
  8. Gossip has eternal consequences: The impact of gossip goes beyond this life. “On the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

We will be held accountable for the impact of our words on others, especially our families.

Proverbs 20:19 exhorts us to avoid associating with gossipers. We are called to foster healthy relationships, to encourage each other to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). We are to show evidence of our relationship with Christ through co-labouring with Him (Isaiah 61:4; Proverbs 14:1).

May God be at home in your home (Deuteronomy 33:12 MSG)

Your Co-labourer,

Chuks Aniereobi.

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