Genesis 3:1-6 teaches us that Satan was the most subtle beast of the field, but Proverbs 7 teaches us about another one who is subtle:
Proverbs 7:10 (KJV) And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart.
With the subtle of heart in mind, think about the gossip for a moment. Granted, she may not dress like a prostitute, but here heart is just as perverse and she is just as much a devil. In the past, we have discussed how the gossip is at the top of God’s most despised Proverbs 6:1 teaches us that those who are liars, who are proud, who have hearts full of mischief, whose hearts devise wicked imaginations. Still, there is another aspect to the gossip. Like the harlot, the gossip is subtle in many ways: she disguises herself as something she isn’t, she is subtle in how she gathers her information, she is clever in how she spreads her information and she does not care who she hurts – even if she damages the cause of Christ.
First, the harlot disguises herself as something she isn’t The harlot on the average street corner doesn’t reveal her true identity. Her attire, her makeup, her hair, her demeanor all disguise her. Today, there are many men who go so far as to masquerade as women to play the role of a harlot. Likewise, the gossip does nor reveal her true identity. In a congregation of believers, she uses the right language. She may dress modestly (or, she may be so ugly that she just wants to cover up). She even claims to be a Christian but her lying heart reveals God is not her father and Jesus is not her role model. As she is a liar, so is her father:
John 8:44 (KJV) Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Second, the gossip is subtle in how she gathers most of her information. Remember, she is a liar at heart and it is through her lies that she gathers her information. She may approach you claiming to be your friend. She may see a burdened look on your face and offer to help. Like the harlot, she uses clever words, flowery language and a chameleon’s tongue to weave her way into your life and into your trust. Despite her claims, she is not interested in your well-being. Her interests are her own. What she can do to make herself look better.
Before his fall, Satan was considered an angel of light. Many people believe that, before he fell, Satan was a magnificent creature to behold. They believe that Satan’s appearance was not what we think of today as a red-devil with horns and a pitch fork. Rather, before he fell, most Bible scholars believe Satan was beautiful and radiant beyond our comprehension. Likewise, many people believe that Satan’s appearance, today, is beautiful, as well. We want to believe that Satan would appear as a monster. In reality, Satan’s appearance would be quite attractive. Likewise, the gossip adorns herself in the robes of Godliness. She is a master of disguises. When you see her in a congregation, you cannot pick her out from God’s people. If you search the church membership roles, you will find her name. By being clever in how she blends in with the believers, she develops a trust with the believers. Believers who do not know her, begin to believe that she is a believer. She gains trust, her words gain validity and she lies herself into the hearts and lives of the believers.
Finally, like her father, the Devil, the Gossip does not care who she hurts. You have to remember that Satan is not interested in souls being saved. Satan was your soul eternally condemned and burning in hell. The only way Satan can claim a win is by stealing a soul from God. The next best thing to keeping a soul in hell is keeping a child of God living in defeat. For everything Satan does, these really are his only two goals. The gossip is nothing more than a puppet whose strings are being pulled by her father. What you will find is that no matter how nice her words are, how pleasing her compliments are, how encouraging her words may seem, they are lies. They are not the fruit of a Godly heart, but the deception of the devil. Remember Genesis 3. When Satan deceived Eve, he used the very words of God. Yes, they were not exactly God’s words, but they were close enough to be deceptive.
We see many ways the gossip is like a harlot. But, ultimately, the gossip is most like the harlot in how she sells herself for pleasure. Her currency isn’t money, her currency is friendships and trust. The pleasure is her own. Like the unrepentant streetwalker, the harlot needs to be marked and avoided.
Does God hate the lifestyle of a sodomite more than the actions of a gossip?
Pr 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, (19) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren
Let’s look at seven things the Lord calls an abomination, and how this passage describes the gossip, shall we?
Many of my preacher friends are quick to thump their pulpit and waive their Bibles as they preach against the sin of homosexuality. Often, their preaching is to a resounding chorus of “Amens,” or others crying out, “Preach, preacher preach!” Yet when seven other abominations are mentioned, the church house often falls deathly silent. When we mention gossip, is the plow getting too close to home for YOUR comfort? This passage mentions seven different sins and names them all as an abomination. Often, we will pick each one out and preach on the individual sin, not realizing this passage is speaking directly to the gossip. James speaks of the tongue as a fire. He compares it to a rudder – small member which can drive a very large ship. As a fire, the tongue can certainly do great damage. Every year, we see what a little spark can destroy as it grows and rages out of control in a forest fire. The tongue of a gossip is no different. Oh, the gossip is a well camouflaged critter. She will come to you with lips dripping of honey, she will lure you in with her kind and flattering words. Ultimately, she will ferret out your deepest secrets. She will seem to be your best friend.
A proud look
Indeed, the gossip is a proud one. After all, she does no wrong. When a family is wrecked, a heart broken or a testimony shattered, she had nothing to do with it. She was only doing what any Godly person would do. She just shared a prayer request.
“You need to pray for so-and-so, they are in …”
I’m sad to say there have been times when I have encouraged this by listening. My friend, LISTENING TO THE MANURE IS AS MUCH A SIN AS SPREADING THE MANURE.
A lying tongue
This should be quite obvious, but the gossip will lie. Yes, even the dear, sweet one who is sharing that prayer request. You can’t think for a minute that she is anywhere near God, can you? Her first lie is her claim to be a Christian! She is a devil! Oh, she is a good actor, but so is Lucifer.
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Like her father, the truth is not in her. Like her father did in the Garden of Eden, she will mix a little truth in with a little deception to contrive a stunning tale. You can be certain her tale will suit her needs and promote her agenda. When she has no use for you or when you are just too juicy to pass up, her tale will tear you down.
Hands that shed innocent blood
When we, as preachers, lift this verse out, we speak of the fool who is quick to do harm. Perhaps, if we are preaching to the youth, we might speak of the bully who torments his classmate. We must remember that the act of hating a brother is murder!
1Jo 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
As you watch the gossip, you will see bitterness and hatred slip through her deceitful lips. Yes, when she is talking about you, behind your back, she is showing her hatred for you. She is tearing your down. She is trying to destroy you.
A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations
The gossip is, indeed, a creative one. She studies you, analyzes you. She finds out things about you and molds them into her craft, weaving her story into something she can use. Her fiction is based in the truth of your life, wrapped in lies to feed her perverse pleasure. If she were seen as the liar she is, there wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is in her inevitability. When she is in her character (that of a sweet, caring Christian who’s only goals are the cause of Christ and edifying believers) she seems so believable. Combine her act of believably with the smallest nugget of truth, and he lie has credibility. All the time, it is not the truth at work. It is not the leading of the Holy Spirit of God moving in compassion in her heart. It is her imagination at work.
Feet that be swift in running to mischief
If it can be left unsaid, leave it unsaid. There are many times when it is sufficient to simply ask someone to pray for a brother. Do we believe God is so small that He does not know our needs? In fact, God knows our needs better than we do. If we simply pray, “God, you know John’s need right now. Please work in his heart and in his life.” God knows our heart and God knows John’s need (John is a hypothetical person). We don’t need to give God the nitty-gritty details of John’s need. If we don’t need to share the details, why does the gossip need to share John’s details with us. Oh, life would be so boring, but there would be so much less drama.
Can you help John? No? Then why do you need to know all about his need? The Gossip wants to share his need so you will know what problems he has. The gossip wants you to know John’s weakness because the gossip also wants you to know how she would never do that.
He that soweth discord among brethren
This goes directly to the gossip’s goal. As long as their is discord, as long as their is trouble in the camp, she is happy. She is happiest when she is in the middle, manipulating the strife and contention to her own advantage. Given half a chance, she would tear a church down to its foundation. She must be marked and avoided.
A false witness that speaketh lies
Half-truths, innuendo, imaginations, outright lies – these are all the tools of the gossip.
Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
If someone truly feared God, they would be edifying their brothers and sisters in Christ. Moreover, they would be seeking the lost to bring them into the fold. They would be reproducing – bearing fruit. The gossip is not a believer. I believe that if we could examine their heart, they are not fully persuaded that God is real. Oh yes, they will tell yo they are saved, that they know Christ, but they are, after all, liars. Their deeds are listed among the seven things the Lord considers to be abominations! They murder in their heart. Though we did not discuss it here, the gossip has made herself a whore by selling her own righteousness for a few moments of pleasure in her heart. Her rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. In her pride, she is her own idol and she is certainly a liar. She is condemned.
Just as we should not hate the sodomite, we should not hate the gossip. That would make us a murderer, just as she is. There are some things we must do, however. First, we must pray for her. We must pray for her salvation and we must pray for her exposure. Apart from salvation, the gossip has a bleak future ahead of her. Our words will never sway her, only the Holy Spirit of God can draw her. But, we must also pray for her exposure. Everyone around her must understand that she is a devil.
Rom 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Yes, God does want us to mark them and separate from them. This is actually a part of Biblical church discipline. This separation, or breaking of fellowship, was designed by God to give God a chance to move in their lives. It is painful, but it is for their own good.
So, which does God hate more, the sodomite or the gossip? If we look at history, we see where God destroyed the cities on a plain because of sodomy. But that was a different time. Today, we live in a time of grace. The judgement of God has been tempered, for a season. Do not misunderstand – sin will be judged. But which sin is worse? I cannot say. Sodomy creates a confusion among the genders which God clearly hates, and hates on many levels. Gossip breaks fellowship among believers and destroys churches. Where sodomy is a sin which attacks the church from without, gossip is a cancer which destroys the church from within.
If pressed, I would dare not say one sin is worse than the other. I would have to conclude that the gossip and the sodomite are very much in the same boat.
Are you a gossip? As you read this, if you were honest with yourself, would you say you are guilty? Confession and salvation are your only option. Repent and turn to Jesus today.