“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Oh, the wisdom of Thumper’s pa. As good as this advice sounds it is rarely easy to apply. Especially when something real juicy made its way to your ear and you know those around you would love to hear it. You could be known as the one who gets all the good info; you could be the person “in the know.” You could make people laugh, make people want to listen to you, or stand up for a friend (by bashing their enemies). Sadly, the other side of that coin is you can be known as the person no one can trust information with and the person who is a gossip. You can make people cry, make people angry and make someone feel terrible about the things you have said.
Guys think a lot about girls. Guys look a lot at girls. Guys pay a lot of attention to girls. Guys do a lot of things in hope that a girl is paying attention to them (often regrettably so). Guys talk a lot about girls. Guys ask hypothetical questions about girls (would you rather marry a girl who constantly smells like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, or a girl who always has amazing homemade ice-cream on hand?). Basically, much of what guys do revolves around girls.
I have had discussions with many different guys about girls they like, or traits that they adore in certain females. Now this list will often vary depending on what type of guy you are talking to, but solid Christian guys often have some very similar lists. Some of the chart toppers are: Christian, pretty, virgin, sweet, nice, makes you and others feel good, easy going, etc. Some traits that I have never heard a guy say that he adores in a girl are: a good mouther, constantly bickering and fighting with other females, talks bad about her friends, tells embarrassing gossip about others, being nice to a person’s face but nasty behind their back. I have never heard, “Man, she is amazing! I mean, she is the best gossiper I have EVER met!”
Generally, gossip, fighting, mouthing and constantly complaining about friends, coworkers, family, etc. is seen as irritating, unattractive and catty. In a guy’s list of good female qualities often the exact opposite is what is listed. Here’s a hypothetical I think a lot of guys would really struggle with: would you rather be with a girl who is constantly mouthing and complaining about everyone around her, or smash your thumb with a hammer five times a day for the rest of your life? Basically, these two options are about equal on the list of things I want in my life.
The most important thing about this discussion however, is not what guys will think of you when you gossip, slander or talk about other people. The most important thing is what does God think about you? In God’s list of what makes an “excellent wife” in Proverbs 31:10-31, a busybody is somehow left out. These actions are never seen in great women like Esther, Ruth or the Shulammite woman. What does God say Christians are to be like with their speech?
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32).
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers” (Titus 2:3). NASB says “not malicious gossips”.
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:8, 9).
There are many other passages that we can look at, but I think the point is clear. Let’s try to put God first when choosing our topics of conversation.