One garden. Two trees. One permitted. The other forbidden. One bite changed everything. Paradise. Paradise lost. That’s our story. What does it have to do with gossip?
Gossip flows from that broken part of our soul that can only be redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. The source of the polluted tributary called gossip goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and to the sinful fall of humanity (Genesis 3).
God placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden paradise where Adam lived with his wife Eve. By doing so, the Almighty laid before Adam, our physical and spiritual ancestor, the choice between life and death. The Lord said, in so many words, take your desire for the knowledge I have forbidden too far and you will surely die. The desire alone is not sin; rather, the salacious satisfaction of the desire for forbidden knowledge is, and it always slays us.
Gossip momentarily delights an insatiable desire in us for forbidden knowledge, but in the end it produces death. The death of unity, harmony, friendship, and fellowship with others and God. A Baptist preached named A.B. Simpson once groaned at the thought of using his tongue to harm the body of Christ by saying, “I would rather play with forked lightening, or take in my hand living wires with their fiery current, than speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ, or idly repeat the slanderous darts which thousands of Christians are hurling on others, to the hurt of their own souls and bodies.” An eloquent warning, for sure.
Gossip divides what should otherwise be united. It destroys God’s vision for His bride, the church, by making two of what He intended to be one. When we are drawn in and tempted by the desire for forbidden knowledge, we do well to drink deeply from the pure Word of God.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6
Gossip casts aside the humility, patience, love, and gentleness required of us to bear with one another as one body united by one faith, one baptism, and one Spirit. To remain healthy and holy, our eagerness to maintain the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" must outpace our ambition for forbidden knowledge fueled by gossip.
Ann Landers once addressed and personified gossip by publishing the poem below in her popular syndicated column. She received frequent requests to republish it. It provides a fitting way to end any discussion about gossip and the desire for forbidden knowledge.
My Name Is Gossip.
I have no respect for justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed. I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody's friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same. I topple governments and ruin marriages. I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion. I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows. Even my name hisses.
My name is Gossip.