Words Matter: My Awakening to the Sin of Gossip

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I never considered gossiping a sin until I was 48. I always thought sins were the big ones like murder, theft, and adultery. Gossip just didn’t make the cut in my mind. But then I heard a something that really hit me – if we’re trashing someone with our words, we’re committing murder with our tongues — basically disrespecting one of God’s creations, and that’s not ok.

Think about it this way: if you’re a parent, you know that feeling when someone says something negative about your child? Well, God probably feels the same way when we gossip about His children.

For 8 years I moderated “The Talk” — a daily talk show where I was paid to give my opinion and gossip about celebrities. At the time I had no idea what I was doing was sinful, in fact I found it fun at the time!

But you know, looking back, I realize that I was practically born into gossip. I come from a huge family, and we had these epic gossip sessions with my cousins in Singapore. It was like a verbal Vegas – whatever was said in that room stayed there. And strangely enough, I don’t regret those days. Gossiping with family was a way for us to bond, especially because we were so far away from Singapore, living in Queens, New York.

Those early days of gossiping with relatives set the stage for my later obsession with all kinds of gossip – celebrity stuff, office rumors, you name it. I remember eagerly waiting for my dad to bring home the New York Post every day, just so I could flip to Page Six and get my gossip fix.

Little did I know that one day, I’d become a public figure and be on the receiving end of gossip. I mean, reading about myself in Page Six was a shocker, especially when it was about my secret romance with my now husband, in a “blind item” fashion. I thought my life was over! But it turns out, gossip can really mess with your head.

Then, there was this other time I found myself in Page Six again, but this time, they had my name and picture, claiming I was pregnant. In reality, I had just indulged in too much New York delivery food. But you know, when you read Page Six you believe every word until it’s about yourself. Then you’re like, “Wait a minute, that’s so not true!”

But the real eye-opener came in August 2020 when I heard a sermon by my friend turned pastor about the sin of gossip and the power of words. It hit me that when we gossip, we’re basically assassinating someone’s character with our words. I vowed to stop, though I still slip up on occasion, especially when I am with certain friends. I used to think, “Okay, this is just between us, God won’t know.” But I’ve learned that God knows everything, even what’s in our hearts.

As for the people who have gossiped about me, since my walk with God, I see those people I used to consider enemies in a different light. They’re not really my enemies; the only true enemy we all have is the devil. So, I pray for them, hoping that whatever hurt they have in their lives gets healed by Jesus. I also “find the treasure.” If God created them and loves them, I challenge myself to find something lovable about them too.

Whenever I feel anger bubbling up, I try to remember James 1:19 – be slow to speak and slow to anger. But, I’m not perfect, and sometimes I lose my cool, like the day I had a major meltdown over my 13-year-old and his cell phone. Anyone who’s dealt with teenagers knows how challenging that can be. I’ve come to realize that silence is golden in those moments. When you’re quiet, you can actually hear God, just like Psalm 46:10 says – “Be still and know that I am God.” So, these days, I try to listen more and speak less, especially when it comes to gossip. It’s been quite a journey, but it’s taught me the power of words and how important it is to use them to lift people up, not tear them down.

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Julie Chen Moonves

Julie Chen Moonves is the author of BUT FIRST, GOD. In it, the longtime host of Big Brother and former moderator of The Talk shares her transformative spiritual awakening, revisiting pivotal moments from her life and career through fresh eyes. This as-told-to story is a unique, conversational audio experience that will put you in the room with Julie as she recounts her faith journey and favorite scripture passages, while inspiring listeners to find their own path. Julie Chen Moonves spent the first forty-eight years of her life ignoring God. She had never even attended a Sunday church service. For much of her life, her impressive yet demanding career was her priority with little time or energy for spirituality. But in 2018, Julie’s life was turned upside down, and the sudden shift in perspective opened her eyes to the biggest opportunity of all: a personal relationship with God.

In her new audio memoir But First, God, you’ll feel as though you’re sitting across from Julie as she weaves together memories with reflections on scripture, prayer, and how finding God has changed every facet of her life, from her on-camera work to her role as a wife and mother. She’ll take listeners behind the scenes of her career, telling never-before-heard stories from her first job as a reporter through becoming a network news anchor, three decades hosting the reality competition show Big Brother and eight seasons moderating the Emmy Award–winning daytime talk show The Talk. But First, God reveals who the real Julie is when the cameras stop rolling and looks back at the highs and lows of her journey with new perspective. Julie shows how scripture is leading her walk with God, and how every listener can find their own joy and peace in faith.

Look for Julie Chen Moonves’ BUT FIRST, GOD: An Audio Memoir of Spiritual Discovery wheverever audiobooks are sold. Learn more at ButFirstGodAudio.com

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