Do You Add or Take Away?

“…being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, 
maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers…”
Romans 1:29

I love to talk. About anything. Or anyone.
Haven’t you noticed how fun it is to sit around a dining room table and discuss someone else’s life at length? Pointing out another’s problems, putting them in a category box, preaching about how they could fix everything.

Horrible, isn’t it? A sort of demented pleasure.
And God thinks so, too.

In Romans 1, God lumps whisperers together with the sexually immoral, malicious, murderers, and evil-minded. Eek.

But why is it so wrong to whisper? It’s just a little talk and doesn’t hurt anyone, right? Not exactly.

The Greek definition for whisperer means “whisperer, secret slanderer, and detractor.” Detract. Hm. That’s interesting. Let’s look at that. defines detract as several things. Namely:

  • To reduce or take away the worth or value of;
  • To deny or take away (a quality or achievement) so as to make its subject seem less impressive; and
  • To divert or distract away from.

When I whisperer about someone I am reducing their worth and value, not only in my own mind, but also in the minds of my listeners. I am, in essence, saying “This person is not as valuable as you might think they are. Here’s why.”

I am also denying their uniqueness as a human being, as someone made in God’s image. Maybe they have made mistakes, maybe they aren’t perfect. But wouldn’t it be better to focus on the positive? To speak of the growth and benefit that can be seen in their life? Most people’s mistakes are glaringly obvious. Why not reveal a gem instead?

And the real issue comes down to me. Why do I delight in talking about others? Isn’t it really because I want to distract away from my own shortcomings, even it’s just the fact that I am boring and have nothing interesting in my own life to talk about?

No one is perfect; we all make mistakes. We can’t always be silent; we need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). But next time let’s pause and think before we speak.