A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
How often do you talk about other people? I think my wife and I bring other people into our conversations on a daily basis. “Did you hear about so-and-so’s daughter? What’s with these Christian girls getting pregnant? I hope they will at least choose adoption.” We are saddened by the news, of course, and the issue of teen pregnancy is certainly alarming, so is it wrong to talk about what’s going on in other people’s lives?
The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways: Intent – Building yourself up by tearing someone down Type – Speaking of the faults and failings of others or revealing potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if you mean no harm, it is still gossip.
Alarmingly, gossip is like cancer – it starts small and is hard to detect, but over time it grows and metastasizes and if left untreated, it harms everything it comes into contact with…and even “separates the best of friends.” But what about the first part of today’s Proverb? The “troublemaker” in this case is like Johnny Appleseed, moving from field to field casting his “seeds of strife” or division. The Troublemaker uses gossip, of course, but also uses suggestion and innuendo. He introduces a potential contagion into conversations and situations with the hopes of stirring up division. His joy is causing people to doubt others…or even themselves. He loves it when a good fight breaks out…or at the very least, seeing people contemplate casting the first stone.
Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6) and as His ambassadors we must be agents of reconciliation rather than planters of strife and/or gossip (2 Cor. 5:20). We must keep a tight leash on our tongues and be brutally honest about the intent of our hearts. It is remarkably easy to move from the lane of information sharing into the lane of gossip, so keep a tight grip on the wheel! And if you enjoy sowing seeds of discord rather than promoting peace, you had better hit your knees in repentance.