Spread the gospel, not the gossip

Have you ever heard of the term “Mondegreen?”  

Mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a word or phrase in a way that it gives the word or phrase a new meaning.  

For example, a few years ago when Emerson was in preschool, she came home talking about a new song that she learned in music class that day. Of course, I asked her to sing it for me.  

The song she sang for me: “Hey, show your sneezing toes, sneezing toes. Hey, show your sneezing toes, sneezing toes.” 

The actual song: “Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.” 

I would definitely say that by mishearing and misinterpreting this song, Emerson gave it a brand-new meaning. I remember this vividly because I laughed about it for a week straight. I thought it was so hilarious and sweet, I never even corrected her.  

This reminded me of an interactive lesson one of my teachers taught my class during elementary school. The whole class gathered around forming a circle, the teacher began by whispering a semi-complicated phrase in the ear of the person next to her, then that person would whisper it in the ear of the next person and so on until the phrase had reached the ear of every person in the circle. The last person would then say the phrase they heard aloud.  

We did this a few times and as I am sure you already guessed, the phrase at the end never matched the phrase from the start. (Not even close!) 

The point of this lesson was to teach us about the dangers of gossiping- how information can be misheard or misinterpreted as it is repeated from one person to another and how this can be harmful or hurtful at times.  

We have all been on both ends of this type of situation, whether we were the ones gossiping or the one being gossiped about, whether the subject was something trivial (like sneezing toes) or life changing. What we speak aloud and choose to share with others has the potential to not only hurt someone’s feelings, but it also could affect their marriage, their job, their family, or their reputation.  

This is why I always hated the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  

The truth is words do hurt. Bones will heal over time, but hurtful words can stay with someone forever.  

God warns us to stay away from people who gossip and to guard our words when we are speaking about others in the book of Leviticus. Chapter 19 verse 16 says, “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.” 

Ephesians 4:29 also says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” 

I feel like it is important to note that gossip does not necessarily have to be the spreading of false information, there are also truths that should not be shared either if it could potentially cause pain to another.  

It is also important to evaluate and figure out what is our motivation behind sharing and spreading these things? Are you angry? Hurt? Jealous? Maybe it makes you look better, and the other person look worse. Maybe you feel threatened by this person and want to attempt to knock them down a notch. Maybe you want to appear to be in the know- someone who has the inside scoop. 

What comes out of our mouths reflects what is inside of our hearts, so if you find yourself constantly being negative, critical or sharing hurtful things about others, then take a pause and really evaluate what the root issue is. Afterwards, confront it, deal with it and ask God to help you.  

Instead of focusing on telling your neighbor’s story, let’s tell the story of Jesus. Instead of spreading rumors, spread the gospel. Instead of sharing the gossip, share the Word.

(Paige Nash is a wife, mom and digital journalist for the Webster Parish Journal.)

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