What kind of sins are acceptable? What kind of sins can you have a little bit of in your life and still be in good standing with God and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? The short answer is, none. There is no such thing as an acceptable sin. In Romans 3:23, Paul writes that all of us have sinned. In Romans 6:23 we read that the wages of that sin is death.
There are not any exemptions or clarifying remarks given. All have sinned, and all sin brings the wage of death alongside of it. So, in short, there is no such thing as an acceptable sin.
However, I fear that often there are some sins that we may be tempted to treat as if they were acceptable. You know, the things we read about as condemned in scripture but, do a masterful job of convincing ourselves that the Bible is really not addressing what I’m doing, but maybe addressing what someone else is doing on a much larger scale.
Let’s discuss one of the most “acceptable” sins, and why we should accept it no longer.
The tricky thing about gossip, is that almost unanimously (in the church) we agree that Gossip is sinful. However, we rarely can identify when we are gossiping. Rather, we use different phrases to describe our actions. Let’s examine why this “acceptable” sin should be accepted no more.
What Gossip Does to the Church:
It never helps. No, seriously. It never helps. There has never been a time when gossip has done anyone any good.
Proverbs 16:28 – “A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.”
Proverbs 26:20 – For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
There are so many times when problems either would never had begun or would have simply gone away if it weren’t for gossip. How often have you heard of gossip ruining a friendship, or splitting a church? How often have you heard of gossip bringing people closer together? What does gossip do for the church? It never helps.
It destroys what Jesus wanted. In John 17 Jesus spent time praying for you. He prayed for His disciples at the time, but He also prayed specifically for His disciples that were to come (you and I).
In this prayer, Jesus asked the Father to help His disciples to become one. To be united. The purpose of this union was so the world could look at the Christian’s and understand that there is something different about them. Each time a Christian spends time Gossiping, they are working against Jesus Himself.
Why Do People Gossip?
If gossip is so bad, why do so many do it? I think there are several answers to this question.
They are avoiding biblical solutions for dealing with conflict. One of the best things we can do for our children is to model before them how to handle conflict. In Matthew 18:15 Jesus lays out the blueprint for handling conflict. You are to go to your brother alone.
It is tempting to avoid this, because this is difficult. When is the last time you had a real disagreement with a brother or sister, and you took them to lunch, or called them on the phone and asked to speak with them openly about the issue at hand? It is challenging to face those situations the way Christ commanded. So often, people choose another way of dealing with conflict. Rather, than speaking to the person they are in conflict with, they simply speak about that person to anyone who will listen.
They are selfish. Sometimes people gossip for no other reason than selfish motivation. Sometimes it can be as petty as jealously. Someone is jealous of what another has achieved or acquired. Rather than honoring their achievement, they decide to tear them down with Gossip.
Maybe it is a decision that is made by the elders that they disagree with. They puff themselves up determining that if they had made the decision they would have made a better one. Since they didn’t get their way, they will now let everyone know why their way was better.
They are idle. This may be the biggest reason of all. 2 Thessalonians 3:11 –“For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.” The next time you encounter someone spreading gossip around the congregation or the workplace take a step back and examine the people doing the gossiping. Are they the hardest workers in the room? Are they the ones trying to move forward, sacrifice, and serve? Or are they the ones who aren’t willing to do the work, they just want it done their way? As Paul would say, not busy at work, just busybodies.
How should a Christian handle gossip?
The challenge that many Christians have is not deciding whether to gossip or not. Rather, it is determining how they should respond to gossip when it is brought to their ears. Might I suggest one simple solution?
Don’t even listen to it. Think with me about King David for a moment. Before he was king, in 1 Samuel 24 we learn a lesson about gossip. David was fleeing for his life from Saul. David cut a piece of cloth from Saul’s robe to prove that if he meant him harm, he would have already hurt him.
In 1 Samuel 23:8-9 David yells out to Saul and urges him to stop listening to the words of men who were telling him that David wanted him dead. You see, Saul allowed his mind to be poisoned by gossip. As a result, he tried to kill an innocent man. What was David’s plea to Saul? Stop listening to the gossip.
Regardless of how we relabel it, gossip is unacceptable. Because sin is unacceptable. Gossip never helps the church, and it destroys what Jesus wanted. People gossip when they are avoiding God’s way of conflict resolution, when they are selfish, or when they are lazy. The best thing for a Christian to do concerning gossip is to not even give it the time of day. Don’t listen. Keep moving forward, keep working for the Lord.