Grilling and gossip have something in common.
One of my hobbies is grilling and smoking. I don’t have a fancy setup, but there have been some tasty meals come off my grill—if I do say so myself.
One of the most difficult things for me to do is smoke a turkey. I’ve spent years working on my skills to keep the bird at a stable, low temperature while preventing the charcoal from going out. When you’re holding a temperature of 220 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s not much room for error.
A very challenging moment is when I have to add fuel to the bed of embers. Someone who smokes meat has two options: light a few pieces of charcoal in a chimney starter and add it at the right time or add some cold charcoal to the embers in the grill or smoker.
The risk of opening the grill is part of the challenge: all the heat escapes and the inrush of fresh air could make the embers flare up and raise the temperature too much.
But without more fuel, the turkey won’t get cooked completely.
One of the key skillsets to grilling and smoking is management of the fuel.
Gossip also needs fuel or it dies out. Proverbs 26:20–22 teaches us:
20 Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. 21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. 22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.Proverbs 26:20-22
New International Version
I’ve lost count of the gossip and tidbits of juicy information that has died when it reached a wise person’s ears. It’s amazing how fast it dies when we don’t share in the fun of fueling the fire of gossip.
The alternative is taking the juicy morsel of gossip and feasting on its tastiness.
But gossip isn’t good for our spiritual health. It rots us from the inside out. It can make us bitter, envious, or arrogant.
Most of us don’t argue with the damaging nature of gossip. The question becomes how do we starve gossip of its fuel.
I have three suggestions I try to practice.
First, I try my best not to give a gossip my ear. I don’t want to be entertained by it and I try to show my discomfort with it. Frankly, it’s not fun sharing gossip to someone who’s not enjoying it.
Second, I try my best to be where the gossip dies. That means, I don’t repeat it. A lot of the time, I hear gossip as a form of power struggle. Someone lets the word out that they’re upset about something and they will “leave the church” if such-and-such doesn’t happen. So, when this juicy morsel comes at me, I let it die with me.
Third, I try my best to factor Philippians 4:8 into my thought process about the information: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Therefore, grills and gossip can be put out by the same method: starve them of fuel. While our own, personal behavior can’t stop all the gossip of the world, I guarantee that your world will get a lot quieter from the whispering, quarrelsome noise of gossip.