“Gossip is tasty, it’s fun. It gives the gossiper a sense of power. Power to shock and awe, power over others’ emotions or actions. But gossiper beware. “
Written by Rachel Shultz
These are not pleasant times we find ourselves in. COVID-19 is serious, and it’s shaken us all. It is a sickness worthy of our attention and respect. And although most of us are taking every precaution to avoid contracting it ourselves and spreading it to others, COVID seems to have managed to “go viral” in more ways than just the virus itself.
You’ve seen what I’m talking about. The screenshots, the memes, the forwards. The clever use of medical sounding terminology, statistics, big government terms like “Stafford Act” and FEMA, all interspersed just so to give the impression of authority and the ring of authenticity. But the source is never attached, or it just happens to be artfully cut off in a screenshot. Or, the name is blacked out to “protect” the source from being outed for sharing insider information not meant for public eyes. I can only guess the conclusion one is meant to draw from that is that those in power are hiding important information from us, the misled public, and this selfless Bradley Manning is leaking for our collective benefit, so be grateful for this shred of “truth” and it’s every man for himself now.
There have been countless ominous warnings to “stock up while you can.” I even got one today of a screenshot from an unknown person’s Facebook post – name and photo cropped, of course – that someone has a “friend of a friend” who died from corona virus. This screenshot came from a member of my church. When I saw that, I finally recognized this for what it is and can no longer stay silent.
Church, this has to STOP.
If you find yourself forwarding or sharing information that you have no trustworthy source for, at best you made an honest but foolish error because you did not stop to consider before you “spoke.” Make no mistake, forwarding information on to other people whether it’s an Instagram post or sending a meme via text to your friends, it is a form of speaking. If you sent something with the good intention of sharing relevant information but failed to first ensure the truthfulness or helpfulness of what you sent, you are flirting with being a fool.
Please take a moment to heed warnings for the fool who cannot practice discernment or control her tongue:
Proverbs 14:15 “The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps.”
Proverbs 18:2 “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
Consider the steps you take. First take time to gain understanding of a situation before giving your opinion. If you delight in hearing yourself speak, be careful, you are treading on dangerous ground.
Christian, what comes next is a dire warning. If you send unverified information on to others with the intention in your heart of inciting drama or unrighteous fear in them, you need to carefully consider your ways. Proverbs has much to say not only for the person who speaks carelessly, but also for the person who speaks with purposeful ill intention.
Proverbs 18:7-8 “The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.”
Proverbs 18:20-21 “From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Gossip is tasty, it’s fun. It gives the gossiper a sense of power. Power to shock and awe, power over others’ emotions or actions. But gossiper beware. Exercising that kind of power is an abuse and those who do it will reap the painful consequences. You are playing with a snare for your very life.
COVID has been oddly unifying in a way. Some have been unified over their fears and anxieties. But not you, Christian. We unite in the protective shadow of the cross. Invite others to unify with us in this message of hope. There is no lasting or trustworthy power in misinformation. Misinformation is the tool of the enemy. But there is unfathomable power in the message of the gospel. Lean on it, rest in it, proclaim it.
If you feel convicted by this, I will leave you with Proverbs 3:11-12. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects…” Take the correction. Repent. Make amends. And next time you are tempted to send something along, pray, and reflect Christ’s message instead.