Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pests -Here They Come!

This season Middle Tennessee is due for a bumper crop of 13-year cicada.  They are coming out of the ground as I write this.  Yuck!  I didn't live in this area thirteen years ago.  These pests are said to be extremely loud and bothersome.  I'm picturing a scene like Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."  I hope I'm wrong. According to entomologist Dr. Frank Hale “in some locales, the sound may seem deafening.”  This expert recommends earplugs.  (for more information, see http://www.agriculture.utk.edu/news/releases/2011/03-si-Cicadas.html)

Thankfully, cicada are not harmful to humans, but there is another pest that is sometimes equally annoying and, sadly, very harmful.  I’m talking about gossips.  We all know the type.  I’m chuckling right now as I remember the scene from “The Music Man” when a bunch of old biddies sing “pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, peck a lot, peck a little more…”  A funny scene in its context, but not so funny to the one who is being “pecked”.  Without a doubt, gossip is harmful.  Maybe you have been the object of gossip at one time or another.  Rumors spread, true or untrue, and people begin to look at you funny or avoid you.  Not fun.  Reputations have been ruined over gossip.  Ironically, the reputation of the gossiper can be equally ruined.  That’s justice for you.  No one trusts a known gossip.

We know that God hates gossip.  Paul couples it with “every kind of wickedness” in Romans 1:29.  God also warns us about it at least seven different times in the book of  Proverbs.   Truthfully, I don’t believe anyone wants to be identified as a gossip.  The trouble is that gossip is too easy.  Anyone with two ears and a tongue who spends time with people is susceptible.  I’ve had long conversations with people about what is considered gossip.  Does it only involve untruths?  No.  You CAN gossip about someone and be telling the truth.  Ever hear someone gossip about two people who are having an affair?  True, and very damaging.  Does gossip only involve slander?  Can you gossip about someone in a positive way?  This is a tough one.  If the information shared is personal in nature, I believe it is gossip.  Maybe Mary doesn’t want the world to know she had cancer, even though she is a walking testimony of God’s healing.  The question becomes, when you hear information about someone else, what do you do with it?  Can they trust you?  And when you are tempted to share their story, what is your motive?  Have you cleared it with the person involved before you opened you mouth? (Incidently, posting on the internet counts as opening your mouth.)  I think these are great questions to ask yourself when you are tempted to talk about someone other than yourself.  Call it a litmus test.  I wish that I could say that I have never gossiped, but I can’t.  And I have lost someone’s trust at least once because of it.  For this very reason I challenge you with the same challenge God has given me:  watch your tongue!  James says that the tongue is “like a flame of fire” that “can ruin your whole life” (James 3:6), not to mention what it can do to others around you.  That is a story for another time. 

Next time you hear the noise of the cicada, let it remind you that there is a time to keep silent.

Proverbs 11:13
”A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.”

Proverbs 16:28
”A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”

Proverbs 17:4
”Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.”

Proverbs 20:19
”A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.”

Proverbs 25:10
”Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation.”

Proverbs 25:23
”As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!”

Proverbs 26:20
”Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.”

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