I have lived long enough that I shouldn’t be surprised by the things people do and/or say. Yet I am often surprised, all the same.
One of the things I have witnessed is the way total strangers will discuss/dissect/decide what someone was thinking or what they meant when that someone said/wrote XYZ. They (the total strangers) can’t take XYZ on face value and so they project themselves/their thoughts/their beliefs/their psycho-babble into the mix. And if they don’t like what comes out, they verbally stone the person who said/wrote XYZ, not for what they actually said/wrote but for what they (the strangers) have decided the person meant.
I remember one abominable weekend, more than a decade ago, when I witnessed some women dissect Prince Charles and Princess Diana for hours. It felt like days because I was "trapped" there until afternoon. Were Charles and Diana hurt from this ugly gossip session? Did it matter to them that people on the opposite side of the world thought they knew their thoughts and feelings? No.
But still, innocent people often are hurt by this sort of thing. It becomes a habit. One begins by gossiping and passing judgment on strangers on the Internet, in the entertainment industry, or on the news, and then pretty soon they are doing the same to the guy at work or the lady down the street or a member of their own family.
It’s a sad commentary of our times that we are so thoughtless of other people, that we are so quick to judge and think we would do better in their shoes, that strangers sow discord with abandon. Perhaps we have too much time on the Internet and/or with 24 hour news programs, etc.
Proverbs 6 says there are seven things God detests:
a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent,
a heart that plots evil,
feet that race to do wrong,
a false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord among brothers.
Father-God, when I am tempted to gossip or to pass judgment in my heart, make me conscious of it and silence me. When I post on-line, make me careful to speak truth into every situation and never to spread gossip disguised as truth. Keep me conscious of the power of the written word and be sure I wield it in a way that honors You. Amen.