Mr. Peabody's Apples
Over a year ago, I was introduced to a children's book written by none other than pop singer Madonna. As a Christian, I cannot praise many things about Madonna's life and work. However, her book Mr. Peabody's Apples is a wonderful exception.

The plot, as one would expect in children's literature, is simple. Let me briefly summarize the work at this time. The primary characters are some boys on a little league baseball team and their coach, Mr. Peabody. The coach regularly goes to the local market, picks out a lush apple, puts it in his bag, and leaves. One of the boys (named Tommy) observes this and quickly goes to tell his friends about the apparent shoplifting.

Tommy's pals are now on the lookout also. Gossip spreads that Mr. Peabody is a thief. Consequently, none of the boys will play ball for Mr. Peabody. One of them informs the coach about the rumor regarding him as a shoplifter. Mr. Peabody takes the boy to see the grocer, who explains that Mr. Peabody pays for his apples when he buys his milk. Once Tommy is informed of this truth, he quickly apologizes to the coach for the rumor he started.

Mr. Peabody then asks Tommy to meet him on the baseball diamond and to bring a feather-filled pillow. The feathers are released and instructions are given to recollect all of them. Tommy realizes the impossible nature of the task due to the wind blowing the feathers away. The moral is clear: gossip pollutes the world in a way that cannot be fully remedied--no matter how hard we may try to clean it up.

Friends, we would do well to always be mindful of this truth. There is power in words to heal and destroy. When we choose to circulate stories or juicy bits of information that we cannot verify to be true, we are gossiping and causing irreparable harm to the reputation of another. This is wrong and certainly not in keeping with the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12). Do we want others to give us the benefit of the doubt? Then we must do so for them! Do we want others to approach us first if they have a concern? Then we must do the same! When we see or hear anything about another person that doesn't seem to be right, we will investigate such matters with a proper spirit before sharing them with anyone else--that is, if we really are people of integrity and lovers of truth! It may be the case that we misunderstood or have been misinformed. Even if our perception is correct, verifying the truth before broadcasting it is always the wise choice. May we labor to "test all things" and "hold fast what is good" (I Thess. 5:21)! Additionally, we should also stop to consider whether a negative truth about another person even needs to be spread at all. Often, the motivation for doing such is nothing more than retribution or joy over the sins of another. This ought not to be so!

For further study on the subject of gossip, please consider our feature lesson entitled: "Are You a Gossip?" from 01/28/2006.