These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. – Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV)
I’ve attended church most of my adult life. There have been times when I have seen members of churches sow discord among members so much that it basically killed the church. Some churches never recovered. Some people that the discord was aimed at never recovered, either.
I think that has to be one of the major concerns of any church – members spreading negative and unflattering things about other members.
The classic example is the church gossiper saying that he/she needs to know what is happening with John/Jane Doe so “I can pray for them.” Then after finding out, he/she tells other members, “Did you hear what happened to the Doe family.”
Some churches have small groups that meet to discuss the Bible and sermons. These are great places for discord to be sown in these little groups. It’s harmful when a gossiper is in a small group because members can’t be open about their problems for fear it will be all over the church or social media in a day or two.
Social media does its part. I heard about a lawsuit that was filed against some former church members and although the former members are presumed innocent until proven guilty, some members spread the one-sided story to other members via Facebook. That was a classic example of church gossipers sowing discord. Shame on them.
Some people may have heard the story of Ray Donovan. He was the Secretary of Labor in the Reagan Administration. Back in the late 1980s, the NY Times reported that Donovan and others were indicted by a Bronx County, New York, grand jury for larceny and fraud. To make a long story short Donovan and the other defendants were acquitted, after which Donovan was famously quoted as asking:
Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?
When sowing discord there are two sides that are damaged: The person who sows it because they now have the reputation as a gossiper and people feel they cannot trust them to keep information private, and the person(s) they are spreading the discord about. Their reputation is damaged.
A real Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip. – Billy Graham