We’ve all had it happen: A friend walks up to you or calls you and tells you a juicy piece of information that sends your head spinning. You immediately think of a person you would like to share the information with and then, your friend’s final words come to you, “Oh, and please don’t say anything to anybody. I don’t know if I was supposed to tell anyone or not.”
Ah yes, we’ve all found ourselves in the gossip-mill before. It’s funny, or maybe it’s not so funny, that when we hear a piece of gossip we have a tremendous urge to tell someone, even if it’s just one person.
The Bible has much to say about our conversation and, specifically, the way we use our tongues. One of the most potent verses I’ve found is Proverbs 11:13 which says, “A talebearer revealeth secrets, but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter”.
The word “talebearer” is a nice way of saying “liar”. Generally, the person who can’t wait to get ahold of a piece of news about someone and share it with another person is also a person who lies. The word “revealeth” has the meaning “to strip” its use specifically implies when people were taken captive into slavery and they were stripped of their clothing.
To reveal a secret, likely a negative aspect of someone you know, is like stripping that person and exposing her to public shame. We have all seen this happen, or even done it ourselves. Maybe we’ve talked about how another woman we know is a flirt when her husband isn’t around, or maybe we have caught a person in a lie and told others about it. The things you are saying might be true, but to broadcast it to another person is only exposing shame. “Love hides a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).
The second part of the verse says that a faithful person will conceal a matter. The word “faithful” means trustworthy or moral. Do you consider yourself a moral person? If you do, then you will not be a person that spreads gossip (true or not) about another person. The word “conceal” is exactly the opposite of the word “reveal”, it is “to cover up”. Instead of revealing negative information about another person, if you are faithful, you will do your best to conceal it and actually protect that person’s reputation.
Part 2 will focus on using self-control with our words.