(Trussville, AL USA)
"They say an elephant never forgets. Well, you are not an elephant. Take notes, constantly. Save interesting thoughts, quotations, films, technologies... the medium doesn't matter, so long as it inspires you. " (Aaron Koblin)
"They say this, and they say that." Many a time I've probably entered into the age-old syndrome of "they say." And I most likely should not have repeated what I heard. Some thoughts I've gladly passed on, and now that I think of it, others I perhaps should not have spread at all.
Now, just where did the "they say" adages come from? I guess maybe it might have originated from those around us. I know now that these manners of speech, whatever they may be, must have been extended by our friends, our neighbors, and our relatives. In other words, it's what all our acquaintances tell us, without putting a name as a source of the comment. Does this not make sense? I surely hope so, as this is one time the internet didn't give much help to my question.
How then, does all this aforementioned mumbo-jumbo relate to our everyday Christian interaction with others? Oh no, here I go being a carrier of the aforementioned cliché "they say."
So another thought on this touchy subject. Is "they say" not simply a form of gossip? And if so, does the Bible not discourage gossip? (Proverbs 21:23) Therefore, let's take a look-see at this juncture of our thought-provoking blog.
Question: "What does the Bible say about gossip?"
Answer: 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. (Taken from gotquestions.org)
You see, gossip has perverted our human interest. We will say we don't like it, but when it's out there, we are very disappointed if we are not included in the loop of conversation, right? (Proverbs 18:8) So be careful of talking too much. (Proverbs 20:19)
Oh, I know, you will be the first to shout aloud, "Not me! I'm not getting involved with the possible untruths of others." But don't forget, gossip involves listening as well as talking. (Proverbs 17:4)
Therefore let us look at a number of appalling examples of the "they say" gossip syndrome. In (Romans 1:29-32) the apostle Paul gives us a perfect Biblical example.
The Apostle Paul gives us a stern warning whereby spreading untruths may be a form of turning away from God's principles and instruction. From this passage, we can infer the serious nature of the sin of gossip, the sin of spreading all those "they say" unverified observations.
Then, have you ever heard anyone use the phrases "they say" as a form of a tall tale, by jokingly referring to another friend? You see, when a "they say" yarn is spoken out on another, it could very well be misconstrued as mockery. (Proverbs 21:24) In (Psalm 1:1) we also see that King David also had something to say about this form of mockery.
I guess the "rumor mill" may be one of the most used phrases of "they say." One happens to hear something, not confirmed, but are eager to spread the information around. Thus gossip prevails. (Proverbs 13:3)
And have you ever heard something too good to be true, so to speak? Too good to be quoted, but you just couldn't wait to spread it around. This "they say" rumor mill then just happens to turn into unverified gossip.
Last but not least, are the social media outlets with which to vent our communication, verified or not, in today's culture.
Remember, when you tend to get caught up in the trap of "they say," be sure to turn away from repeating something unless you can verify its credibility. It is very easy to engage in gossip, simply by repeating something told to us in confidence. (Proverbs 11:12-13) Yes, many a friendship has been destroyed over repeating an unreliable comment. (Proverbs 18:7-8)
So have you come to figure out who "they" are? Don't worry about it, just don't engage in this practice and you can't ever go wrong. You will have nothing to worry about, and no useless talk to ask forgiveness for.
"Irish Parliamentarian Sir Boyle Roche once said, 'Half the lies our opponents tell about me are not true!' Someone with a much firmer grasp of the English language remarked of Roche, 'Every time he opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it,' and a phrase was born." (From "Mental Floss" magazine, Vol. 2, Issue 2 (Mental Floss, LLC, Mt. Morris, Il., 2003). Thus, the adage "Open Mouth, Insert Foot was born. In other words, "They Say."
So I must admit, many a time I have surrendered to the temptation of "Open Mouth, Insert Foot."
Yes, putting an end to gossip oftentimes is very hard to accomplish. On the surface, forgiveness seems simple, but scars often linger on, even though a confession has been given. However, something divine happens when we bring our misdeeds to the Lord. (I John 1:8-9)
Thankfully, Jesus gave us an example to follow:
"There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is said whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Matt 10:26-27).