Considering the above definition, do you wonder how so much stuff gets into general circulation without someone taking the time or effort to confirm it? I think it is probably more than we realize. Everyone wants to "out-scoop" the next guy. Someone has to be "first" with the "big story" - not just on TV news, but also in real life day-to-day interactions. People just want to be "in the know" about the other guy.
Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart. (Proverbs 26:22 NLT)
Mom always used to teach, "If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all." Sound advice, but I think many folks operate more on the "If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, I am all ears"! Did you ever stop to consider that almost no one gossips or spreads rumors about someone's good virtues? They almost always pick the "bad stuff" - because it is "juicier"! Don't you wish people would spread rumors about all the character CHANGE God has worked into your heart as freely as they would latch onto the one thing about your character God is still working on?
I came across a quote this morning which really speaks to all of us about how it is we share the words we might share today. Here is what American poet Alice Duer Miller had to say:
If it is very painful for you to criticize your friends - you're safe in doing it.
But...if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that's the time to hold your tongue.
Good words, indeed! If the words we are about to share touch upon the character trait still "under construction" in another's life, judge how much it concerns you to be sharing those words. But...look at what she says again - it is not as much a focus on the words shared, but on who it is you are sharing those words with! If you find it hard to criticize a friend - you are safe doing it - as long as you are doing it to their face! If you criticize behind their backs, you are really just spreading dainty morsels that eventually will sink deeply into your heart and become a deeply rooted critical bent toward that individual.
Someone once said, "The easiest way to keep a secret is when you don't have any help doing it." Isn't this the truth? Share something and you run the risk of it no longer being a secret. If you have a trusted friend, it is likely you share things with this individual which you might consider "knowledge" about you that you'd rather others not know - like those "under construction" areas of your character. So, it stands to reason we need to be cautious about what we share and to whom we reveal the secrets of our heart, right? I don't think everyone has a right to know the inner workings of my heart - but I can trust God with them and a few others he has placed in my life as accountability partners.
I think we need to evaluate the words we are speaking a little closer some times. If we find ourselves frequently gravitating toward pointing out the "under construction" areas of another's life, we probably need to evaluate the "why" behind our pointing those things out. Maybe it is time we shift to pointing out the virtues of another - even if we have to look pretty deep to find them. Just sayin!