“It’s not my place to say, but…”
I’m sure almost everyone has heard these words, or something along the same lines. Whenever I’ve heard them, and the times I have said them, two things come to mind:
1. The speaker really feels it is his or her place to say.
2. They are usually followed by a negative assessment of someone or something – and often the someone or something isn’t around to reply.
For some reason, casting aspersions on someone else’s character or actions sounds a little less petty when couched in humility, false or not. But gossip is gossip, and making negative comments about someone else often says as much about the speaker as it does the hapless subject.
As far as I know, Jesus didn’t begin many of his words with “it’s not my place to say.” He talked to those who disagreed with him far more often than he made comments about them to a third party. It’s a practice I hope to follow more closely – in thought, word, and deed. When I’m tempted to dress up gossip with these words, these two thought just might stop my tongue:
Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone. (John 8:7)
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (I Cor. 13:1)
If I take them to heart, they have the power to do more than stop me from spreading gossip: they can keep my mind from even thinking about it.