“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” Proverbs 18:8
Diners at the sushi restaurant admired the paper-thin slices of raw pufferfish sashimi artfully arranged before them on the platter in the shape of a chrysanthemum, while naively ignoring its potential danger. One tiny mistake by the highly trained sushi chef could result in the death of those enjoying this popular Japanese delicacy. A poisonous neurotoxin, located primarily in the liver and ovaries of the pufferfish, is 1,200 times more lethal than cyanide, with no known antidote. More than one hundred people die annually from eating improperly prepared pufferfish, known as “fugu” in Japanese.
Some fugu aficionados actually choose to dine at specialty sushi restaurants where microscopic portions of the poison are purposefully not removed by the chef so that the consumer can experience a bit of a buzz or tingling sensation. As a precaution in such cases, the chef is required to sample the sushi to verify that it is safe. Due to its deadly toxicity, the government has banned the sale of whole pufferfish to the general public and it is the only food the emperor of Japan is forbidden by law to eat in order to ensure his safety.
The Scriptures point to the existence of other dangerous morsels parallel the peculiar culinary habits of eating fugu. The Book of Proverbs compares gossip or slander to a delicious morsel that can be appealing to our sense of taste or sight, but produces deadly effects when consumed. It begins when our sinful nature tempts us to listen to the reports of others’ misfortunes or misdeeds in the form of gossip, which may or may not be grounded in truth. The ingestion of such morsels can produce deep wounds in both the listener and the person who is the center of such malicious gossip. Like a deadly toxin, it has the potential to penetrate one’s inmost being and as a consequence, destroy relationships and reputations. This is why we are instructed to put a guard on our hearts, restricting our diet to things that are true, right, holy and honoring to God. Just as there are healthy and unhealthy food choices we must make every day, gossip has harmful effects on the lives of those who choose to consume it.