There is an old anecdote that designates the concept of the "Triple Filter Test" with the acronym "TGU." The letters are meant to remind us to ask three important questions before we speak: Is it True? Is it Good? Is it Useful? If you have ever been the subject of someone else's gossip, you know this premise was not implemented.
Gossip is often seen as harmless and, many times, even celebrated; it can be a hobby and one that feeds the feel-good chemicals in our brain — the same ones that other toxic, addictive behaviors can trigger. It releases a rush of phantom inclusion and a high of personal satisfaction. Should we then all run to find the nearest victim and engage in this exercise of happy hormones? Not so fast.
Unfortunately, this concoction of euphoric body chemistry is in fact amoral and often much more toxic than the convincing feelings convey. While the momentary hit of pleasure goes to work in the brain, in its wake is a boomerang effect of consequences, as the same empty and often harmful words toward others fire back as true about oneself. That's right: What you say about someone else — whether true, good, useful or not — has a repercussive influence on your own brain and psyche. Both hearing and speaking gossip negatively affects your mind, which will affect your thoughts toward yourself, others and the world. In case you haven't caught on by now, gossip is just not worth it.
The nature of gossip is filled with half-truths and whole lies. This type of talk is rarely constructive and mainly destructive. It wreaks havoc on relationships and is an enemy to unity and trust. In fact, if you want a surefire way to decrease trust levels between you and someone else, gossip about the person. You will successfully dismantle even years of stored-up relational integrity and confidence. Since I'm guessing that is indeed not your goal, instead I suggest the opposite. Make yourself a "no-gossip zone." By doing so, you become a safe space for people to trust you and to know that they are loved and valued by a person who chooses to guard his or her heart, mind and mouth toward you.
In short, becoming a no-gossip zone is worth it. You will store up relational equity while healing your own brain and satisfying your spirit, which was created for what is noble and pure and lovely and of good report (Phil. 4:8-9). Choose not to engage in the behavior of gossip and reap the benefits of true reward.
James 1:26 (NKJV), "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless."
Proverbs 26:20 (TPT), "It takes fuel to have a fire—a fire dies down when you run out of fuel. So quarrels disappear when the gossip ends."
For more on becoming a no-gossip zone, listen to this episode of the Life Exchange podcast.
Katie Stansfield is the co-host of the new podcast, Life Exchange as well as staff pastor and administrator at Giving Light in Elizabethville, Pennsylvania. She is passionate about raising up healthy people so that they can live and lead well. With a practical, down-to-earth style, Katie believes in tearing down personal and societal barriers so that we can model and lead successful and healthy lives, ministries and cultures. Visit the Life Exchange website here.
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