OceanSide church of Christ
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THE RUMOR MILL
Victor M. Eskew
A mill is a factory for certain kinds of manufacturing. Within the world, there is a factory that exists that manufactures rumors. Thus, it is called “the rumor mill.” A rumor is defined as “a statement or story in general circulation whose facts have not been confirmed.” Rumors can also be called speculations, lies, or tales. One would think that rumors would never be part of the practice of a Christian. However, this is not the case. In fact, this writer has been the subject of a rumor that circulated among Christians just recently.
The Bible has somewhat to say about talebearing and a lot to say about lying. Let’s look at just a few passages of Scripture.
- “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people…” (Lev. 19:16).
- “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth a matter” (Prov. 11:13).
- “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the inner most parts of the belly” (Prov. 18:8).
- “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Prov. 26:20)
- “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25).
- Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Col. 3:9).
As Christians, we cannot afford to pass over these passages and others that deal with this subject. We cannot make excuses as to why we refuse to abide by God’s Word. God informs us that talebearing is harmful. He instructs us not to gossip. He does not want us to tell tales on others. He exhorts us not to spread lies about others.
A question that we might ask is: “Why do some people labor so diligently in the rumor mill if God forbids it?” Numerous reasons could be given. Here is a short list:
1. To feel better about themselves
2. To get attention from others
3. To gain power over others
4. To relieve boredom
5. To stir up trouble and division
6. To hurt others
7. To generate fear
8. To get revenge
The Bible addresses all of these things in various passages of Scripture and through numerous Biblical principles. Many people tell lies about others because they want to feel good about themselves. They believe that they can rise by stepping on others. This is not the way greatness is achieved. Greatness, according to Jesus Christ, comes by serving others. “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:26-27).
Some like to spread rumors so they can get attention from others. They become the “go to” person for those who like the goods that proceed from the rumor mill. If a person wants the “low down” on another, brother or sister “so-and-so” has all the gory details. People call and talk to the employees of the rumor mill. People constantly gather around the rumor mill employee to find out about the latest products. This causes the talebearer to believe that he/she is very important. They remind us of the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ day. These men loved to be seen by others (Matt. 6:1-8, 16-18). Jesus said that they loved the glory of men. He, then, concluded: “Verily I say unto you, they have their reward” (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16). In like manner, the one who spreads rumors about others has his reward. Men may love him, but he earns the disapproval of God.
We could go on and show how each purpose of a rumor conflicts with the Scriptures, but let’s move on. The truth of the matter is that the rumor mill needs to close. This is a difficult task to accomplish. For this to happen, those who labor in the mill are going to have to take some serious steps. First, they are going to have to develop love for others. A person who spreads rumors does not care about the person the rumor hurts. This insensitivity is not love. Love, that is, agape love, always seeks the best interest of another person (I Cor. 13:4-8). Second, the one who proclaims rumors must learn self-control, especially the control of the tongue. The tongue is small, but it can do massive damage. James writes: “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue amongst our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell” (Jms. 3:5-6). In verse three of that same chapter, James tells us that the mature Christian should be able to bridle his tongue and not offend with his words. Third, the rumor fabricator needs to understand that each rumor that he spreads is a reflection upon himself. The individual destroys his own reputation, credibility, trust, and is labelled by others as a “gossip.” Fourth, the one who makes unfounded statements about others needs to remember the other horrible consequences of his actions: 1) rumors harm relationships, 2) rumors destroy productivity, 3) rumors harm morale, and 4) rumors waste precious time. Ultimately, rumors can cause one to lose his soul. “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8).
It is not surprising that the rumor mill is so prominent in society. The world is composed of ungodly individuals who love finding out “the dirt” on another person. The hair salon, the snack room, social media, and the tabloids are very popular places for rumors to thrive. Such should never be the case within the Lord’s church. Christians love truth, not the lies of the rumor mill. Christians love other people and would never harm others through unfounded rumors. May every congregation seek to destroy every rumor mill that exists within. Let us be the body of Christ that edifies all of the members instead of destroying one another with rumors.