It's Monday, so that must mean it's time for a new verse. One of my readers mentioned to me that the last two weeks, the verses were pretty long, so this week's is short and easy. This one's for you, Kristy. While the verse, itself, is short, it's oh so difficult to put into practice because it deals with gossip. If there's one thing in this world that most women struggle with (besides an incredible fondness for chocolate), it's taming our tongues. And, as I'm sure any of you with school-aged kids know, our kids struggle with it, too.
The problem with gossip is that most of the time it's not true, and it is almost always hurtful to someone else. You know the hurt gossip can cause either through a personal experience or through having your child come through the door in tears because someone started a rumor about her. Gossip is never helpful; it always hurts. And most of the time, the gossip becomes so convoluted and twisted that any semblance of truth is completely gone. Gossip can destroy friendships and cause dissension in families. Satan loves gossip because it is so easy to twist the truth when we're willing to gossip.
Today's verse Proverbs 16:28 is a reminder of the consequences of choosing to gossip. It says "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends." I don't know about you, but I don't want to be considered perverse or the person who broke up friendships. I certainly don't want my children to be on the giving or the receiving end of gossip.
One of my favorite ways to teach my girls about the dangers of gossip is to play the old telephone game where one person whispers something to the next person until it goes all the way around. Usually what comes out of the last person's mouth doesn't at all resemble what the first person said. This gives you a great illustration of the way a story can change when it passes through many people. Remind your kids that if they have any concern about whether a story is true, then they should ask the person the story is about. And if something is hurtful or mean, they should just ignore it.
Remind your children never to repeat a story unless they know it to be true. If they don't know if something is true, remind them to talk to you first before repeating it. Together, you can figure out if it is true, and if it is something worth repeating.
Remember, too, that if your children hear you gossiping with others, all your teaching about gossip will go right out the window. You have to set the example with regard to your tongue, so your children can follow it.
So, this week, as you memorize this verse, guard your tongue. Examine the things that come out of your mouth for truth. If it's not truthful or helpful, don't say it. Remind your children of the same. Let truthfulness and helpfulness be the standard against which you and your children measure your words.