Must You Tell Everything You Know?

Must You Tell Everything You Know?                            October 29, 2023

            Perhaps you’ve read “Anne of Green Gables” (or seen the videos, or both).  “Tales of Avonlea” is a follow-up series of made-for-television programs featuring some of the same characters in the same quaint little town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island about a century ago.

            One of the many recurring themes in both the books and the television shows is the propensity of people to gossip.  What someone said or did decades ago is hashed and rehashed.  Who was seen with whom, and what it might mean, becomes grist for the rumor mill, replete with speculation, arguments, exaggeration, and an abundance of jumping to conclusions.  Ironically, not even church diminishes the desire to dredge up dirt.  No sooner have services concluded than the backbiting begins anew in their Sunday best!  Of course, the author presents it in such a way that we say, “Shame on them!  I would never do that!”  But is that always true?

            “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter” (Proverbs 11:13).  Someone protests, “But everything I said is true!”  Let’s suppose that’s true.  The question is, “Must you tell everything you know?”  Even if something is true, you might do better to keep it quiet.  What if some salacious scrap of scandal surfaced about you?  Would you want anyone who learns of it to broadcast it to the world?

            Someone smarter than I recommended three tests before speaking: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind? 3) Is it necessary?  I have a hunch that heeding those three tests would result in far less gossip.

            “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases” (Proverbs 26:20).

            You really don’t have to tell everything you know!

By Joe Slater

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