TOPIC:“The Sin Everybody's Talking About” (Gossiping)
by Rev. Dr. Reg Dunlap
“It is reported…and Geshem said it” (6:6)
Dr. Paul S. Rees, great minister of the 20th century, once stated: “The tongue is the best thing and worst thing in the world. It can be an instrument of splendor or of shame. It can be linked with stars or cesspools. It can be dedicated to the glory of God or bound over to the service of Satan.”
Or listen to the description James gives of the tongue: “The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself” (3:5, 6, NLT). James continues: “People can tame all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth” (6:7, NLT).
One of the most shameful examples of this shabby business of gossiping can be seen in the life of Geshem the Arab as found in the Old Testament in the story of Nehemiah. Let's return to the words of our text to learn more about the sin which God despises.
Consider, to begin with, the REASON as to why Geshem hired out his tongue to the services of rumor, suspicion and slander. Notice again the wording of our text: “It is reported…and Geshem said it” (6:6).
Nehemiah, God's man for the hour, had petitioned the Persian king for permission to go to Jerusalem in order to mobilize the people to finish rebuilding the walls of the city which had remained in ruins, thus leaving Jerusalem and its people defenseless and unprotected. Unable to stop the construction and completion of the wall, Nehemiah's enemies started a malicious gossiping and whispering campaign against him. Geshem was one of the men at the head of this evil endeavor.
Unable to get Nehemiah sidetracked by ridicule, armed assault or erroneous advice, they now tried a new approach of attack. They orchestrated a plan to slander his character by circulating the false rumor that Nehemiah was trying to organize a following for the purpose of leading a rebellion against the king of Persia. Look again at the fabricated letter which was being . . .