How easy it is to pass on an ill report with such phrases as this, "Have you heard?" "Do you know?" "They tell me," "Keep this to yourself, but—" "I don't believe it's true, but I heard so-and-so say"; or that ancient and familiar word of defamation, "They say." That was the word with which Sanballat came to Nehemiah when he tried to threaten him with the anonymous report that he was plotting rebellion against the king of Persia.
When Aaron Burr at the end of his long life, during which he had tasted the cup of honor and distinction and also drained the dregs of bitterness and humiliation, lay dying in a boarding house at Port Richmond, Staten Island, a friend who was waiting upon him in reporting to him some rumor commenced by saying, "They say." At that Burr interrupted her and said, "My dear, never use that word. It has broken more hearts than any other."
There is a kind of gossip that is good and profitable. A turning point in the early life of John Bunyan was when he chanced to hear three or four poor women sitting at a door in the sun, talking about the things of God. If they had been talking about their neighbors or rolling some morsel of scandal under their tongues, who knows that it might not have been altogether different in the future with John Bunyan. But what he heard them talking about was the new birth, the work of God in their hearts, and how they were comforted and refreshed by the love of Christ. As he went about his work as a tinker, mending the pots and pans of the neighborhood, "their talk and discourse went with him."
A company of ladies met at a minister's house. As he entered the room, he heard them speaking of an absent friend. "She's very odd !" said one. "She's very singular," said another. "Do you know she often does so and so?" said another, mentioning certain things to her discredit. The minister asked who it was. When told, he said, "Oh, yes, you are quite right. She is odd. She is singular. Why, would you believe it?" he added. "She was never known to speak ill of an absent friend!"—Sunday School Times.
The word "gossip" has an interesting origin, and came to have its present meaning by a roundabout route. Originally it came from the Anglo-Saxon word "godsib," which meant "related to God." The word referred to a sponsor at one's baptism. Thus a "godsib" was a close friend who was familiar with you and knew all about you.
It didn't take long for the idea of "knowing about you" to change to "telling all about you," and the present meaning of the word 'gossip" was born. —The Friend.
"If you knew whose feet were standing
Close beside the narrow stream;
If we knew whose eyes were closing
In the sleep that knows no dream;
We would be so kind and tender,
Lightly judge, and gently speak.
Let us act as though we knew it—
For the links so quickly break."
As long as a person is in this life, we always have the opportunity to apologize. When he is dead, that opportunity is gone forever. But even an apology often fails to undo the evil of an unkind act or word. For, as the poet also has said—
"Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds,
But you can't do that when you're flying words."
If we always "act as though we knew it"—how kind and thoughtful we should be! The Christian, who knows his Bible and realizes the power of good and evil words and deeds, finds himself all the more responsible for the proper use of these great mediums of service —or curses. He will let no day go by without acting "as though he knew" it might be his, or another's, last day in this life.—Gospel Herald.
A decent and honest old woman, who had for more than forty years earned a livelihood by taking in washing, was asked how it was she was so well liked by those who came in contact with her. She replied: "I make it a practice never to say in one house what I hear in another."—"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people."—Christian Herald.
I once heard a very interesting story of a woman who was somewhat of a gossip in a small town. One day she was in the office of the Daily News, and leaned up against the wall where were several copies of back editions of the paper. It was warm, her dress was white, and some of the print came off onto the back of the dress. She did not know this, but as she walked down the street was conscious of giggling and tittering whenever folks came near her. She reached home, and there her poor little husband, who was greatly henpecked, was asked if there was anything on her back that should not be there. As she turned around he read in black print, "Daily News." He could not resist the opportunity, and meekly and mildly said, "No, ma'am, there is nothing there that does not belong there!"—Moody Church News.
We may get through this world, but 'twill be very slow,
If we listen to all that is said as we go,
We'll be worried and fretted and kept in a stew,
For meddlesome tongues must have something to do—
For people will talk, you know.
The best way to do is to always do right,
And at last you will always win out in the fight,
Of course, you will meet all sorts of abuse,
But don't think to stop there, it is not any use—
For people will talk, you know.—The Baptist Examiner.
"Show that man out!" we would say of a drunkard; yet, it is very questionable if his unmannerly behavior will do us as much mischief as the talebearer's insinuating story. "Call for a policeman!" we say if we see a thief at his business. Ought we to feel no indignation when we hear a gossip at his work? "Mad dog! Mad dog!" is a terrible hue and cry, but there are few curs whose bite is so dangerous as a busybody's tongue. "Fire! Fire!" is an alarming note, but the talebearer's tongue is set on fire of hell, and those who indulge it had better mend their manners, or they may find that there is fire in hell for unbridled tongues!—Spurgeon.