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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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ARE YOU PREACHING THE GOSSIP?!

A five-year old "preacher" lined his little friends up in the yard and gravely announced, "This morning we will preach the gossip." There can be little doubt the gossip is preached every morning, and not by five-year olds.  From Macbeth comes the line: "Foul whisperings are abroad." But whispering and gossip would starve without someone to listen.  So while some preach the gossip others listen.

Honore' de Balzac said, "If we all said to each other's faces what we say behind each other's backs, society would be impossible." There is an element of truth in Balzac's words, but talking about others behind their backs has not made society any easier.  Acts 25:1ff records the efforts of Jewish leaders opposing the apostle Paul to preach the gossip about him.  They sought to inforin the Roman governor Festus against Paul, and planned to ambush and kill him (verses2,3).  Their plans were frustrated, and later in the chapter Festus reveals that the Jews wanted Paul to be condemned without a trial (vs 15).  But Festus refused to do so and answered them, 'It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.' This incident reminds us that the world sometimes lives by a higher code of ethics and behavior than some who claim to know God.  Festus was being pressured by religious people to condemn an innocent man.  Paul had broken no Roman laws.  But that didn't stop his opponents from preaching the gossip and seeking M do him harm.  Festus did something we should all do when the gossip is preached.  He refused to condemn Paul before allowing him the opportunity to meet his accusers face to face.  To his credit, Festus wanted to get to the bottom of the matter and find the facts.

The Jews who hated Paul planned to ambush and kill him, but their plans were foiled by Festus (Acts 25:1-3).  Have you ambushed anyone lately?  Before you answer, consider these words from Proverbs 16:28- 'A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer (gossip) separates the best of friends." Preaching the gossip can separate mates, families, friends, and brethren in Christ.  A tongue four inches long can kill a man six feet tall.  Since gossip always takes place in a "blaboratory," the quickest way to stop it is for everybody to just shut up.  There is never a time when it is appropriate to preach the gossip.

Dan Gulley
Smithville, TN