God has Ten Commandments that are our moral compass in the world today. We, the followers of Jesus, must incorporate both the actual, literal meaning of the commandments as well as the practical application of these commands. In other words, we must not just know them and agree that they form a good moral compass and foundation for life; we must apply them daily to our lives.
These Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20. These were originally given to God’s people when they were under the Law. But, they are still applicable today even though we walk in grace through the covenant of the New Testament. Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the Law but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). And He took the Ten Commandments to a higher level.
The Law states that we shall not commit murder – Jesus, under grace, tells us that to even think evil thoughts about a person means we have already committed murder in our hearts. The Law states that a person should not commit adultery. Jesus states that if we lust in our hearts after a person we have committed adultery. A higher level is applied under grace than under the Law. They were not removed, they were fulfilled and then the bar was raised as the standards increased revealing the full meaning of God’s plan for His people (Matthew 5).
One of the Ten Commandments deals with bearing false witness. Today we might call that gossip. After all, when we gossip we are not sharing the whole truth of any given situation – just the small bit we are aware of and, even then, often our opinion about the small portion of the story that we are aware of. In the Old Testament this was called an “evil report.” The spies came back from the Promised Land and reported exactly what they saw. But, it led to a conclusion that was opposite to the will of God for them at that time. In spite of them speaking the truth about what they say, it was only part of the story and thus an “evil report.”
Today we speak about people when they are not there. We call it a ‘prayer request.’ We talk about people when they are absent and call it seeking advice and wisdom. However, most times it is simply thinly disguised gossip and we are bearing a “false witness” about the person. Thus, we are breaking one of the Ten Commandments and thus we are sinning.
In the movie Bambi Thumper, that cute and wise rabbit, thumps his back leg to get the attention of the other animals and says, “If you can’t say something nice about the person, don’t say nothing at all.” Poor English but good advice. A simply definition of gossip is talking to someone who is not involved in the problem or the solution…
Bear that in mind the next time you go to speak about someone in a negative light.