Don't get involved in...

The Gossip Game

Have you ever played Chinese Whispers - in church? This is a game in which players sit in a circle. The first player whispers a statement in his neighbor's ear. The neighbor then whispers it to the next player...and so on around the circle. The final player then calls out the message as he perceives it. Lo and behold! The original message in the telling has changed - often drastically!

The game shows how rumors get started, how truth gets distorted as it's passed from mouth to mouth. As a game it's amusing - but in life more is at stake.

It is said that the best way to spread news quickly is to disguise it as a "secret". All of us love to share tidbits of information - it's human nature. Fine - except it too often becomes mere gossip. That's defined as "idle talk or writing, tattle". We could gossip good news, but too often the game takes over and distortions set in. Negative gossip, the showing of others in a bad light, is especially popular - as evidenced by the high sales of the gutter press. Scandal is more interesting!

Sadly negative gossip can take root in God's Church. It's so easy to pass on "juicy tidbits" of information which inevitably have a depressing effect on many. And, of course, with the telling the substance changes so much that the truth is often somewhat twisted.

How then should we handle idle talk?

"We all make many mistakes, and if anyone makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, and able to bridle the whole body also" (James 3:2)

To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.

For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 1 Issue 1, January/February 1997. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.

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