The perks of working from home are endless: typing in yoga pants all day; moving the laptop to the patio to write outside; stopping to vacuum if I have writer’s block. I could go on and on. And this past weekend I realized another hidden benefit of working from home: with no one else to talk to, there is less temptation to gossip.
Until last weekend I hadn’t engaged in a rip-roaring gossip session in about a year. But I can’t really take any credit for that. The simple fact is, now that I work from home, I’m away from what used to be my gossip hot spot: the office.
Last weekend, though, amid a gaggle of girlfriends, I gossiped. Even worse, I enjoyed it. Worse yet: when I realized I was gossiping, and it occurred to me that I should stop, I didn’t. Because I didn’t want to. Because it was fun. Because I liked the way it made me feel like one of the gang. Because I liked how gossiping made me feel better than someone else.
At the end of the day, though, I didn’t feel better about myself. That night in bed, as I replayed some of the comments I’d made around the table, I cringed. The false high that had accompanied the gossiping crashed into a feeling of self-loathing. I was ashamed.
God isn’t fooling around about gossip. He knows how damaging it is, which is why he made it one of the top ten: “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16) The real damage of gossip isn’t simply talking trash about your neighbor. The real damage is what lies underneath.
The sin that lurks beneath the sin of gossip is pride – the need to put myself above and ahead of someone else. The need to jockey for a better position. The need to be first … or at least better-than. That, I think, is why gossip – “You shall not testify falsely against your neighbor” — is included in the Ten Commandments: because when I vie for first place at the expense of someone else, not only do I put myself ahead of that person, I put myself ahead of God.
Do you include gossip as part of “testifying falsely,” or do you interpret that commandment differently?
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