A ‘pyromaniac’ is a person that has an obsessive desire to set things on fire. It is an impulse control disorder, where one cannot resist the urge of starting a fire. One may do so, because they find it exciting or just want to relieve some anxiety. A person who sets things on fire, is also called an arsonist, one may do so for profit, revenge, some ulterior motive, or for pleasure as a pyromaniac.

GossipThere are times when arsonists light up a deliberate fire. That small fire very soon, gets out of control, and becomes a massive fire, destroying homes, lives and everything in its path. The high temperatures, wind and humidity intensifies and spreads the fire. A small spark has caused a huge destruction. How wicked and malicious is an arsonist, who has caused all this devastation!

This is exactly what gossip does to people. It destroys homes, lives and everything that comes in its path. The gossiper who started the idle talk, might have done it for pleasure, revenge, profit or some ulterior motive, just like the arsonist. Some gossipers are like the pyromaniac, who have an obsessive desire to gossip. They too have an impulse control disorder, where they cannot resist the urge of starting or spreading a gossip, setting other people’s lives on fire.

If we call an arsonist a wicked and malicious person, what should we call a gossiper? An accomplice of Satan. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down (Revelation 12:10). Satan is called an accuser and so is a gossiper.

There is nothing good about gossip. A gossiper is the one that talk behind people’s backs, spreading rumours or facts about people’s personal and private matters, mostly to put others down, speak ill-will, or spoil someone’s reputation. Gossip originates from the fires of hell. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell (James 3:5-6).

There may be times when you may have to speak about a person that is not present at that time. Do you speak well about that person? Whatever is spoken about someone, does it bring them honour? Is it spoken out of genuine concern? There may be times when you may need to speak about someone’s inappropriate behaviour to someone else. The important thing to bear in mind is, to be clear about your intentions; is it for correction, protecting someone, reference check or seeking clarification. Whatever is spoken has to done privately and in a trustworthy manner.

Sometimes, gossipers justify speaking ill about others, when they are offended by them. They think everyone needs to know about the deeds of their offender. The best way to avoid a gossip, is to talk directly to the person concerned, instead of talking behind their back. In case of an offense, it is best to confront the person and get matters clarified and reconciled in private, rather than hold bitterness and seek revenge by gossiping.

Gossip is dangerous, it destroys friendship, family, relationships, marriages and trust. There are women that gossip about their husbands to others and vice-versa. At times, parents tend to divide a family by causing enmity amongst siblings. They tend to speak badly about one sibling to another, so as to cause division and disharmony in the family.

Gossipers do their evil speaking with great subtleness and secrecy. They feel they are invincible, since they never get caught. The truth is, there is nothing that is secret for God. He knows every wicked thought and every malicious talk. God categorizes gossip along with murder, envy and other malicious sins, God hates gossipers. Whoever slanders his neighbour secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure (Psalms 101:5).

Our tongue can be used to glorify God and edify others or it can be used to destroy others. Gossip is not harmless. You may speak the truth, but when it spreads out, it gets distorted and corrupted beyond recovery. You might have started a little spark, but it has set the entire forest ablaze. God holds us accountable for every word we speak. I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak (Matthew 12:36).

You can discourage gossip by not being part of it in anyway. Do not start or spread gossip. Do not listen to gossip. This way you can discourage people from gossiping. Gently ask the gossiper if they have spoken to the person concerned directly, instead of speaking to others about it. Do not hang around people that are gossipers, lest you become like them too. Gossip is contagious.

If you are a victim of gossip and people have spread gossip about you, whether it’s the truth or a rumour, you can do the right thing by forgiving your offenders, whoever they may be, and trust in the Lord to uphold your reputation. It is not what people say and think about you that determines who you are, but what God says about you that determine who you are. God loves you and He will restore everything that the devil has destroyed in your life.

Let us therefore repent and turn away from every wickedness that causes division and disharmony, so that we may be called children of God. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:31-32).

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