“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
I’ve always liked the entirety of this quote because it shows a certain level of social maturity that’s very desirable, but today I want to focus on one portion: small minds discuss people.
“Small minds” here comes from the phrase small minded. It doesn’t mean stupid or unintelligent as it seems at first glance.
Small minded (adj.): having or showing rigid opinions or a narrow outlook, petty (a Google result); having narrow interests, sympathies, or outlook; typical of a small-minded person: marked by pettiness, narrowness, or meanness (Merriam-Webster).
When I read this quote, one of the first things I think of is gossip (sometimes called slander, scandal, and meddling) which is rampant in our society and, unfortunately, among many groups of Christians. In essence,what Roosevelt is saying is that small-minded, petty, narrow-minded, mean people are the ones to gossip. This doesn’t mean all who have gossiped could be described by each of these things because all people sin in one way or another (Romans 3:23). But, if this is usually how gossips are characerized, why would anyone want to engage in something that will make them appear petty, narrow-minded or mean (1 Thessalonians 5:22)?
Roosevelt says that small minds discuss people. Discussing people is the exact definition of gossip, and I wouldn’t want to be described as small-minded, much less be caught in such a malicious sin. Gossip is one of those topics I learned about in Bible classes persistently when I was in middle and high school; admittedly, I wondered why until I figured it out several years later. Gossip is not only mentioned by name several times in the Bible as a sin, but it’s also one of the underlying causes for things such as sowing discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:19) and is a result of anger, bitterness, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions (cliques), and envy (Galatians 5:19-21). There are more examples I could give, but the list would be pretty long. Gossip is a sin that both causes and comes from other sins; it’s serious, and it’s one of the easiest sins to fall into.
It takes many forms; it can be direct or indirect and extremely subtle. It covers magazines in the form of lies and rumors, our Twitter feeds as subtweets (a tweet about someone else without acutally tagging them — usually not very kind), Facebook in the form of “news” articles, and the news on television as “the latest scoop on celebrities.” And it comes out of our mouths when we’re talking with our friends because it’s just what you do. It’s one of the biggest problems I’ve encountered (I’ve both participated in it and watched it happen) in my short lifetime.
But friends, this sin needs to stop. It does damage to our attitudes, relationships with people, and our relationship with God. If you’ve read James 3, you know that the tongue (talking) is the hardest part of our bodies to control, so that’s why gossip comes so easily. Everyone has feelings and interests, and we’re all inquisitive by nature; we all like know things, some just for the sake of knowing. But God isn’t pleased by the way so many of us choose to speak and learn about each other, so we shouldn’t be either.
The good thing is that we can be forgiven of this and turn ourselves around. We can make the necessary steps toward ridding our lives of gossip; we’ll be pleasing to God and much more pleasing to ourselves and our friends as an added bonus.
How can we combat this sin?
I’ve found that gossip is most often the result of an attitude probem or heart problem, like jealousy, anger, or bitterness, to name a few. There are several things we can do to get out of the gossip circle and set our eyes on God. We’ll see a beautiful transformation if we do any or all of these things.
1 // Pray for forgiveness and help. 1 John 5:14-15; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:13; Matthew 26:41; Psalm 102:17; Romans 12:12; Psalm 145:18; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 John 1:9
2 // Fill our minds with good things. Colossians 3:2; Philippians 4:8-9; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 16:8; Psalm 119:15-16; Luke 2:19; Psalm 119:11
3 // Genuinely love people. Luke 6:31, 35; Romans 12:9; 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8; Ephesians 4:2; Proverbs 17:17
4 // Remove bitterness and unprecedented anger and put on kindness. Ephesians 4:31-32; James 3:14; Hebrews 12:14-15; Colossians 3:8, 12-14; 1 Peter 2:1
“Bitterness will make you a crazy person.”
5 // Work on bridling our tongues (controlling our speech) on all platforms. James 3; Proverbs 21:23; Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 17:28; Titus 3:2; Ecclesiastes 3:7; Colossians 4:6; Proverbs 31:26; Psalm 19:14
6 // Focus on purifying our hearts and minds. Matthew 12: 33-37; Psalm 19:14; Matthew 6:21; Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:2; Psalm 51:10; Matthew 5:8; Matthew 15:10-20; Proverbs 3:5-6; 2 Timothy 2:22
The verses I’ve included show that there are biblical ways to combat this sin and purify ourselves. Pleasing God should be at the top of every list, and our speech should never be an exception, no matter how much we want to justify ourselves.
When in doubt, ask yourself if what you’re choosing to say is helpful, necessary, and kind or discouraging and hurtful, plus why you’re saying it. Any type of speech requires forethought, careful consideration, and humility.
Everyone stumbles and needs forgiveness from God and each other, so let’s choose to encourage!
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.