WATCHMAN ON THE WALL: Keep your big mouth shut!

Have you ever been the subject of gossip? Have you participated in this “innocent pastime?” Do you even know what gossip really is? 

Gossip: “Idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others” 

I, like many college graduates, young marrieds, mothers of small children, visiting in the neighbors’ homes with other mothers, delighted in the “latest gossip.” Then I ran across some Bible verses on the subject. I was quite shocked. Romans 1:29-30: “People have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are GOSSIPS, slanderers, insolent, arrogant and boastful.” 

WOW! Gossip was listed right in the middle of some really nasty habits. I didn’t murder, deceive people, slander others, but gossip? I did that every day. 

“With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor,” Proverbs 11:9 “A gossip betrays a confidence, so avoid a man who talks too much.” Proverbs 20:19

OK, OK, I was convicted. I shouldn’t be talking behind people’s backs. Gradually I started breaking this very bad habit. The one area I couldn’t seem to let go of was gossiping about others’ problems because I was concerned and asking for prayer for them. “I hate to say anything, but I’m really concerned about . . . .”

One day it backfired, and I lost a great friend. I was teaching piano lessons in the Grass Valley area. A number of my students also went to church with me. I had a dear friend I’ll call Lucy. She was my best friend at the time. I taught her children piano; we hung out together; went to church together, worked out at the gym together, did Zumba in my living room. I loved Lucy dearly.

Lucy’s family hit some hard times financially, and it was pretty serious. One evening, at a piano student’s home, his mother, who also went to church with Lucy and I, inquired, “How’s Lucy doing? Have you heard anything?” 

“I’m really concerned about them,” I replied. “Would you pray for them? Their finances have gotten really shaky, and they owe a lot of money to the IRS. I don’t see how they’re going to make it without a miracle.”

Little did I know that Johnny was coming down the hallway at that moment and stopped, out of sight, to listen to our conversation. This precocious 9-year-old happened to be in the class where Lucy was a school aide. The next morning, he blurted out in front of the whole class, “Gee, Ms. Lucy, I hope everything’s going to be OK. I’m sorry you’re having money problems with the IRS. Ms. Joy was telling my mom about it last night.” 

Oh my! Not only was Lucy terribly embarrassed, but I got a phone call full of righteous indignation. Right then and there ended a dear friendship. Right then and there I learned, “Keep your big mouth shut!” ■

— Loraine Joy is a small business owner and Arbuckle resident. Contact Loraine at musicandmore@mac.com.