Text: Lev. 19: 13-16.INTRODUCTION: Our passage contains a collection of attitudes that God forbids among His children. God forbids exploitation, robbing, deliberately delaying salary, cursing the deaf, putting a stumbling block in front of the blind, perversion of justice and showing favoritism. (Lev. 19:13-15) But in verse 16, the Lord forbids an action that many people including christians are guilty off, “talebearing.” That is why I have titled this message, “THE FORBIDDEN BUSINESS.” While unforgiveness is so dangerous to the life of the individual Christian, talebearing or gossip is so devastating to the growth of any Church. In recent times, the Lord has opened my eyes to this as a strong weapon the devil has been using against the Church of God and the body of Christ at large. An Online Dictionary defines a talebearer as, “ a person who spreads gossip, secrets, etc., that may cause trouble or harm.” He is also called, a gossiper, circulator, gossipmonger, newsmonger, quidnunc, tale-teller or yenta. One ancient nation called a talebearer a “seed picker.” They gave him such a name which they used for a bird which goes about everywhere picking up seeds. There are men and women in the world collecting seeds; going from house to house, and gathering together all the little stories which can be told or made about the neighbours. Such are the “seed collectors,” and they can be found everywhere. But the Lord says, they must not be among us. The evil such men commit cannot be overemphasized and that is why the scriptures warns us against such enterprise. The book of Proverbs, the book of wisdom warns us extensively about tale bearing. (Pro.11:13,16:28, 18:8, 26:20)Jeremiah 6:28 calls them slanderers while Romans 1:29 calls them whisperers. The big question today is are you one of those engaging in the forbidden business?
( A) WHY PEOPLE TELL TALES. Let us briefly look at some of the reasons why some people tell tales or gossip.
1. It is just the gift of some people- If you want some stories to go round, just tell certain people and you can go and sleep. They will do a better job than CNN. But if you consider spreading rumors as your gift, you definitely have a demonic gift. ( The story of four friends confessing to one another)
2. Out of boredom- When some people are bored and they can’t generate interesting discussions based on knowledge or ideas, tale bearing becomes the next business. Busybody women are prone to this. ( 1 Tim. 5:13)
3. Out of Envy and Anger- Some people gossip in order to hurt those whose popularity, talents, or lifestyle they envy. When they feel inferior, they use gossip to bring those who they know are superior down to their level due to anger.
4. To Gain Attention- A person gets to be the center of attention temporarily while divulging a piece of gossip. Yet, spreading gossip or rumors is like buying attention; but such attention is temporary and the foundation is very shallow.
5. Some are Satanically Employed.- The easiest way the devil can destroy a community is to employ the services of gossipers, tale bearers, seed collectors or slanderers.
(B) HOW TO TREAT THE TALEBEARER.
Having seen that such act or business is forbidden by God, you must resolve to quit that business if you are one of those occupied with it. If you continue, heaven will no longer spare you. But if someone who is still in business comes to you, what do you do?
1. Be Spiritually Sensitive. Not every story is true and not every true story comes with good intention. You need to be spiritually sensitive to know the difference.
2. Discourage the Conversation with questions like, can I call the person now?
3. With or Without the Permission of the slanderer, decide to clarify with the subject of the slander.
4. Refuse to be Caged with the Tale. Let nothing change in your relationship with the subject of the slander unless the issue is proven and confirmed from him.
5. Refuse to join the process of tale bearing. Spreading the tale of the talebearer makes you to be as guilty as the tale bearer. I once saw this write up on facebook,
“Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools and accepted by idiots.” But I prefer to state it this way, “ Rumors are carried freely by demons, spread without proofs by fools and accepted without evidence by men of low minds.”
6. Put to shame all talebearers with ruthless severity. He who destroys another man’s reputation can destroy yours as well. When you accommodate a slander, you have encouraged a vile trade and slander will always find the next victim. That is why the Bible says we must not associate with slanderers. ( Pro. 20:19)
7. Ask God to guide you on the matter. Above all, you need God to guide you out of the trap the devil sets through slander. If somebody says, “I hope you won’t mind me telling you this,” you need God to guide whether to listen or refuse to listen. One of the best ways to end a rumor is to ask if you may quote the individual passing it along. If the person says no, it’s possible that the rumor is just idle talk. If the person answers yes, go ahead and contact the subject of the gossip to verify the story you heard. Also, if you like to spread news about others, ask yourself if you would want someone to quote you. If your answer is no, then keep your lips sealed on the matter. If your answer is yes, then go and confront the subject of the gossip first.
As a community, we must dread the talebearer as we dread pestilence. Tale bearing is the way to sow grudges, to kindle fire between persons, flames consuming families, courts, and perhaps at length of cities and kingdoms. The mischief such an enterprise can do in a church is incredible. Why are talebearers still selling in the body of Christ inspite of numerous biblical injunctions? Because many of us are not sensitive to the Holy Spirit, many are living in envy, jealousy and bitterness and gossip or slander is a cheap product to buy when one is at the low ebb. How many people are no longer relating well only due to the activities of talebearers. If you have falling victim, disgrace the devil today and make up with the fellow and expose the one the devil used. Such will never try it again. It is time to expose the seed pickers among us. And if you are a slanderer, remember you are engaged in a forbidden and non profitable business and the anger of God is on you unless you repent. One day, your secret will be revealed. Allan Redpath gave a formula to guide when you are confronted with tale-bearing. This he described using the acronym THINK.
• T—Is it True?
• H—Is it Helpful?
• I—Is it Inspiring?
• N—Is it Necessary?
• K—Is it Kind?
If what a talebearer is about to say does not pass those tests, close the conversation and keep your mouth shut! Beloved, talebearing is a forbidden business. Our approved business is the gospel, the great commission. Today, choose to be a goodnews teller and not a tale bearer. ( Matt. 28:19-20) Shalom.