Proverbs 26:22 (NLT + KJV)
Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.(NLT)
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. (KJV)
In the original Hebrew, Solomon used the word “laham”, which can be translated in one of two ways: as a tasty morsel or as a wound. The word itself is not disputed, but the meaning of the word in context is. In this case, the two meanings alter the point of the proverb, but that doesn’t take away from its power…because in either case, Solomon’s point needs to be understood and heeded by all of us.
Rumors (or gossip) can be like that snack food or dessert item that you can’t seem to stay away from. As soon as you see it or smell it, your mouth begins to water as you anticipate its delicious effect on your state of being. It brings about a sense of pleasure and enjoyment, despite the fact that it probably isn’t a healthy addition to your diet. In the same way, people generally love to gulp down gossip and slander. We like a juicy tidbit of salacious or embarrassing information but like an unhealthy snack, it takes a toll as it permeates deeper and deeper into our being.
The words of a talebearer (or gossip or whisperer) often have the same effect as if they were utilizing a physical weapon of some sort. They can cut deep into a person’s life causing great pain and distress. Relationships crumble. Reputations are soiled. Our Christian witnesses is compromised or ruined. Trust goes out the door and cynicism takes over. Additionally, and making matters worse, is the fact that “words” now have the digital highway on which to travel via text messages, emails, and social media posts or private messaging. Making matters worse, these forms of communication also remove the sometimes-impactful reality of having to look someone in the face when you gossip, risking the possibility of being called on the carpet for it be someone of higher character than yourself.
Whichever way you choose to read this proverb, the truth remains the same: rumors and/or gossip are destructive forces, both to the talebearer and to the one being dragged through the mud and committed Christ-followers should have nothing to do with either.