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Shocking story creates stir

Proverbially speaking: Philippa Smale takes a look at some of the Proverbs from the Bible

Some people have trouble in controlling what they say

JACKIE leant across the café table and lowered her voice. ‘I thought I ought to tell you about Sharon,’ she said. ‘I’m sure it will shock you as much as it shocked me.’

Pat narrowed her eyes, but she didn’t say anything. Jackie took this as an invitation to continue.

‘Last night, the police came and took Sharon away. A policewoman had to stay with the children until Sharon’s mum came to fetch them. What do you think about that?’

‘I think you shouldn’t tell anyone else,’ Pat said, severely. ‘That’s the way rumours start.’

‘Are you saying I’m making it up? I know what I saw.’

‘I’m saying that you don’t know the whole story and, until you do, you shouldn’t spread rumours.’

‘I suppose you know the whole story, then.’

‘Yes, I do. But Sharon asked me not to tell anyone right now. And I’m going to keep my word.’

A lot of damage can be done through gossip, which the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines as ‘groundless rumour’. Unless people know the whole story, it is wiser to keep their mouths shut.

One Bible writer, James, offers some very telling words about using the tongue to gossip and the damage it causes: ‘All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures can be tamed and have been tamed. But our tongues get out of control. They are restless and evil, and always spreading deadly poi­son’ (James 3:7, 8 Contemporary English Version).

Some people have trouble in controlling what they say and how they say it. Thinking about whether our words are going to help someone or damage them might help us to decide what we are going to say – or whether to say anything at all.

The reason for the police visit, inciden­tally, was because Sharon’s policeman husband had been injured in a serious car accident. His colleagues were calling to take her to visit him in hospital.

The story has a happy ending. He made a complete recovery.

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