Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Sam Chapman (no relation of mine) worked at an office where people stated the facts—but rarely with kindness. The gossip was so bad that morale suffered and careers were ruined. So when Chapman founded his own company, he banned gossip completely. The rule is: if you gossip, you get fired. It took time for employees to adjust, but now they value the honesty that a gossip-free environment creates.
Dishonesty, deception, and exaggeration hurt relationships. We might be telling the truth about someone but forgetting that honesty incorporates all seven characteristics of a loving person. Gossip is never kind, patient, forgiving, courteous, humble, or generous. And it can keep us from speaking the truth in a loving way directly to the person who needs to hear it. If our words don't build up a person, they are best left unspoken.
The writer of Proverbs tells us, "The tongue has the power of life and death" (18:21). As we draw close to God, we become more aware of the times when we speak honestly but not lovingly. Whether or not we live or work in a gossip-free zone, we will learn to love others with our words as we view our relationships in light of our relationship with God.
Before I speak about someone else, Lord, remind me to ask myself if what I am about to say is both true and loving.
Dr. Gary Chapman is the beloved best-selling author of The Five Love Languages and Love as a Way of Life. For more information, click here.