Stories have power. Stories have the power to transform. This can be both good and bad. Sometimes there comes remarkable transformation – other times a story can taint a relationship by gossip or unnecessary banter.
This is the topic of today’s wisdom from Ecclesiasticus, listed as Sirach in many of your Bibles. It is coming from the wisdom tradition, this from the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach.
It warns against the dangers of what it calls “loose talk”. “One who trusts others too quickly has a shallow mind, and one who sins does wrong to oneself….Never repeat a conversation, and you will lose nothing at all. With a friend or foe do not report it, and unless it would be a sin for you, do not reveal it.”
This is a much different way than many of us live. We live in an age of constant story. Things are told instantly on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, whether they are helpful or not for us to know. We are bombarded with details of friend’s lives. Some might see this as an exciting new “information highway”, but to Sirach it might be considered the “loose tongue highway.”
Don’t get me wrong, one of the keys to health for a congregation, or a relationship, or a successful business, is “open information”. It builds trust in a system and can transform organizations and relationships for the better. But there is a line. Information is only useful so far as it is useful to this end.
We know this. We know the line. But in what avenues of our lives do we forget? This is where the Wisdom literature is so helpful. It is a reminder for us to be cognizant of that line. It helps us to walk into each situation and have those internal tapes processing the situation, asking, “Is this one of those situations we talked about this morning? How far should I take this story? When does it become gossip?”
Today wisdom comes to us: How can I be better in my relationships? Click on the link above if you do not have the book of Sirach in your Bible, read the entire text and ask yourself, “What kind of loose talk could I clean up in my own life this day?”