“16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”
1. Let us oft speak kind words to each other
At home or where’er we may be;
Like the warblings of birds on the heather,
The tones will be welcome and free.
They’ll gladden the heart that’s repining,
Give courage and hope from above,
And where the dark clouds hide the shining,
Let in the bright sunlight of love.
Oh, the kind words we give shall in memory live
And sunshine forever impart.
Let us oft speak kind words to each other;
Kind words are sweet tones of the heart.
2. Like the sunbeams of morn on the mountains,
The soul they awake to good cheer;
Like the murmur of cool, pleasant fountains,
They fall in sweet cadences near.
Let’s oft, then, in kindly toned voices,
Our mutual friendship renew,
Till heart meets with heart and rejoices
In friendship that ever is true.
*For Young Children*
Read and share “Girlfriends and Gossip” by Heather Kirby (from the friend). Discuss the importance of keeping from gossip. Testify of the blessings we receive for not speaking ill of others.
“Hurry, Heather, or you’ll miss the bus.” Mom handed me a granola bar. “I guess that’s breakfast.”
“My bus driver won’t let us eat on the bus, but he eats all the time,” I grumbled. “And he doesn’t need to—he’s a big guy!”
Mom frowned. “Heather …”
“Oh.” I blinked. “That wasn’t very nice, was it?”
Mom shook her head. “Sometimes you say unkind things without thinking. You need to be careful.”
On the bus, I looked for my best friend, Amber, at her stop, but only her little sister Rachel got on.
“Where’s Amber?” I asked.
“She’s sick,” Rachel said, lisping. “Can I sit here?”
“I guess,” I said, sliding over. Rachel was always hanging around Amber and me. She was all right, but Amber was my best friend, not her. Rachel was a little different, with her thick glasses and funny way of talking.
At recess, I played dodgeball with my friends, but I missed Amber. Then I noticed the new girl, Megan. She stood at the edge of the playground. I walked up to her. “Do you want to play dodgeball with us?”
After school, when Megan and I got on the same bus, we sat together. I told her about the other kids.
“That’s Carlos. He’s the smartest kid in our grade—but I beat him in reading! Over there are Caitlin and Jessica. They live on my street. And that’s Matt. He plays soccer.”
“Who’s that with the glasses?” Megan asked.
“That’s Rachel. She’s my best friend’s little sister.” I paused. “She has a speech impediment.”
“She talks funny. But she’s going to a class to help her.”
“Nice glasses.” Megan snickered. “I’ve never seen them so thick.”
I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Sure, Rachel sometimes annoyed me when Amber and I were playing, but she was a nice girl. And now Megan was making fun of her.
I changed the subject. We talked about other things, and soon I forgot about Rachel and the sinking feeling I’d had.
The next day, I was happy to see Amber back at school.
“I know how to make dodgeball even better,” she said at recess. “When you get out, you have to sing a silly song and do a dance.” She demonstrated for us.
“I can see that weirdness runs in your family,” Megan said, laughing as she turned to me. She seemed to expect me to laugh too.
“What are you talking about?” Amber asked. “You don’t even know my family.”
Megan smiled, but it wasn’t a nice smile. “Heather said your sister is retarded!”
My mouth fell open.
“Heather is my best friend,” Amber cried. “She wouldn’t say that!”
“Well, she did. Ask her!” Megan smirked.
Everyone looked at me. “I didn’t say that,” I whispered, “but I did say that she talked funny.”
Amber’s face fell. I glanced down, not wanting to see her hurt expression. “I shouldn’t have, though,” I added quickly. “It doesn’t matter. Rachel’s great!”
“My sister’s not retarded,” Amber said to Megan. “But even if she were, it wouldn’t be nice to make fun of her.”
Megan folded her arms. “Fine. Let’s just play.”
As everyone lined up, I turned to Amber. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s OK,” she said. But her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.
After school, Mom asked, “Why so glum, Heather?”
“I think I did something wrong. I was telling a new girl about people, and I said Rachel talked funny. Amber found out, and it made her sad. I don’t know why I said it, Mom. But it wasn’t like I was lying!”
“Oh, Heather.” Mom sat across from me. “Yes, Rachel has a speech impediment. But that doesn’t have to be the first thing you say about her.”
“It’s not even an important thing about Rachel,” I agreed.
“Do you know what gossip is?” Mom asked.
“It’s when you talk about people when they’re not around,” she explained. “It doesn’t matter if the things you say are true or not. They don’t need to be said.”
I thought about that as I went to my room to do homework. When I got there, a hymn popped into my head. I ran and grabbed a hymnbook, opening it to “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words” (Hymns, no. 232).
I’d always liked the song because in the first verse it has the word heather—like my name. But I realized I should have paid more attention to the part about speaking kind words to—and about—each other. Rachel was a good person, and my friend, and it didn’t matter if she had a speech impediment. I decided that when I talked about a person, I would focus on her good qualities.
Later, at Amber’s house, after we had decided to dress up as movie stars, I noticed Rachel peeking around the door.
“Let’s not forget Rachel,” I said, opening the door and throwing my arm around her. “It’s always more fun with you!”
Rachel beamed at me, and when Amber smiled it lit up her whole face.
Discuss the importance of keeping from gossip. Testify of the blessings we receive for not speaking ill of others.
Read and summarize “Choosing Not To Gossip” by Brett Schachterle. Discuss the importance of keeping from gossip. Testify of the blessings we receive for not speaking ill of others.
During my sophomore year in high school, I volunteered as part of the technical crew to produce my high school’s annual musical. The experience became one of my favorite memories of the year, because it was fun and I learned so much doing it. I also loved working with the people I met.
But the most important thing I learned was not something I had expected.
In order for the tech crew to communicate quietly with each other, we used radio headsets. We also used them to tell jokes, have conversations, even to sing to each other to entertain ourselves during the long rehearsals.
But the first time we used the headsets wasn’t actually so comfortable for me. At first I was having a blast. Then some people started gossiping about the actors rehearsing onstage. I tried to ignore the snide comments and rude remarks, but as the conversation developed, the gossip grew crueler and more offensive.
I felt sick hearing some of the comments, but I was afraid to stand up against my new friends. I wish I had, because as I tolerated their jokes, I was eventually tempted to laugh and make my own comments. I began to rationalize why it would have been fine. Nobody but the tech crew would have heard me, and I wanted to fit in with the people around me.
As hard as it was, I knew that backbiting about those onstage wasn’t right, and I chose not to gossip.
After the rehearsal we learned that everything we had said over the headsets had been broadcast backstage. All 60 or so of the cast members had heard us talking. Some were angry, upset, or embarrassed. No one was impressed.
Later, while I was talking with one of my friends about what had happened, she said, “Everyone knows you’d never say anything like that.” Her comment shocked me, and I realized the significance of the choice I had made. If I had chosen to join in with the gossip, what would that have said about me? What would that have said about the Church?
I’m grateful for the choice I made in that dark, little theater, even when I thought others wouldn’t know, because it has opened blessings of friendship, peace, and confidence that I would have lost had I chosen to gossip.
Discuss the importance of keeping from gossip. Testify of the blessings we receive for not speaking ill of others.
Read and summarize “The Frigid Wind of Gossip” . Discuss the importance of keeping from gossip. Testify of the blessings we receive for not speaking ill of others.
Careless words have ill effects that reach far beyond casual conversation.
I hadn’t seen Jill for a long time, so although it was storming outside, I decided to pay her a visit. Hoping to avoid the biting wind, I knocked at the side door of her home, which was nearer to my car. She peeked out the window, looked relieved, and quickly let me in.
“Consider yourself privileged,” she said. “A few minutes ago, I made a neighbor go around to the front, and the storm was almost as bad as it is now.”
“Why?” I asked, surprised because Jill generally goes out of her way to make people feel welcome.
“The last time this neighbor stopped by, she told me in detail about the ‘despicable state’ of someone else’s kitchen, right down to the eggshells in the sink,” Jill explained. “I’ve been involved in about a million projects today, and, well, you can see why there’s no way I’m going to let her see this!”
I smiled because her kitchen looked about as lived in as mine sometimes does. “So,” she continued, “I made the poor woman endure the storm and go around to my nicely vacuumed front room.”
I know how Jill felt. None of us like to be talked about in less than compassionate terms; the prospect that negative, critical, or even careless words may be spread about us is as welcome as a subzero weather forecast.
Gossip does have a chilling effect on those who bear the brunt of it. Generally, our reputations are important to us, and there is an inherent, disconcerting unfairness about labels given or rumors spread when we’re not able to defend ourselves. Such words can be frustrating, painful, and even harmful at times.
What I hadn’t thought about until that day I visited Jill, however, is what gossip does to the person spreading the ill will. He or she also feels the icy aftermath of careless words. In fact, each of us risks being figuratively—and in this neighbor’s case, literally—left out in the cold if we indulge in gossip and speak unkind words about others.
Loyalty and Goodwill
Years ago a college classmate opened her binder and found a note attached to the inside of the cover: “Have a great day!”
“It’s from one of my roommates,” she explained. “She’s always writing me cards and leaving notes.”
Impressed, I responded, “That’s really thoughtful.”
“She also buys me gifts,” my friend continued.
Now I was even more impressed. “I’d love to know someone like that,” I said. But my friend’s voice didn’t register much enthusiasm, and I was puzzled. “You don’t seem particularly excited.”
She smiled sadly. “That’s because she criticizes me behind my back and spreads rumors about me when I’m not around.”
“Oh.” Again, I understood. Despite her outward attempts to show concern, this friend’s roommate had not yet learned that gifts and notes don’t mean much when unaccompanied by the warmth of loyalty and genuine goodwill. Sometimes we find it easier to write a quick note or purchase a token of affection than to bridle our tongues.
Sharing the Good
Good intentions can be undermined so easily if we’re not careful. For instance, a Sunday School teacher who mentions specific people struggling with gospel principles being taught in the lesson unwittingly leads class members to feel insecure, confused, or ill at ease. They may even wonder if the teacher has ever used them in a negative way to illustrate a lesson.
As visiting and home teachers we can be left out in the cold, unable to serve effectively, if we have created an atmosphere of fear that information we acquire will be discussed carelessly or be used to criticize. As a result, our ability to make a difference for good is deterred in this important area of service.
Cooperation and good feelings among those who work together in Church callings are also iced over when gossip occurs. One bishop released the members of a presidency because of the ill feelings they harbored due to the words they had spoken behind one another’s backs. They could no longer serve in their callings effectively or work as a team because of the cold antagonism that separated them.
The scriptures tell us that “every idle word that [we] shall speak, [we] shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36). Few words are more idle than those spoken critically about others, especially when we as Latter-day Saints understand that an important part of our commission here is to “love one another” (D&C 88:123; see also D&C 88:124–25) and to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).
A Warm Shelter
When we refrain from repeating cruel or careless words, we not only are able to serve more effectively but we also build a foundation for closeness and friendship. When I chided an acquaintance for not telling me that a couple we both knew had gotten divorced—something I thought would probably be common knowledge—her simple explanation put her on my people-you-can-trust list, and I immediately perceived her as a woman of honor and character.
“I just wasn’t completely sure if it was something they wanted discussed yet,” she said. I now knew that anything I told her would be kept confidential. Had she filled me in quickly on any details or, worse, conjecture, she unwittingly would have revealed that she was not careful with information.
By not gossiping, we create a warm shelter where those who know us realize they can come and freely discuss any problems they are having without fear that things will be inappropriately discussed or repeated. They can feel comfortable being themselves without fear that their mistakes or personal affairs might become the sport of idle tongues and itching ears. Both parties benefit and bask in this warm shelter.
Being Found Out
When we gossip, it’s amazing how often the person we talk about finds out what we’ve said. People often sense when they are being discussed, or word simply gets back to them. Like the liar, we feel a need to look over our shoulders after having participated in gossip.
Our relationships are again affected as we alienate ourselves from others. We feel a cold, hollow hypocrisy as we greet or deal with people we have talked about negatively. Our own feelings of worth and our outlook on life are affected as we expect others to talk about us with the same lack of regard. We become nervous about appearing less than perfect because others might talk about us. After all, how can we expect others to act more nobly than we ourselves are acting? Worse, we pull ourselves away from Heavenly Father and cannot feel the warmth of his approval when we are being unkind to his other children. We alienate ourselves spiritually and thus feel even more shut out.
I felt a biting sense of wrongdoing when on my front doorstep I chatted with a neighbor about a former tenant my husband and I had rented an apartment to. Still, I rationalized, my neighbor didn’t know him and he had moved to another state years before. So what was the harm? In fact, I felt so confident that he would never know I was talking about him that I recklessly exaggerated some of his idiosyncrasies for humorous effect. What did it matter? He was hundreds of miles away, and I’d never see him again.
Then with the words still on my tongue, I saw someone coming down the street toward us. He looked exactly like the man I’d been talking about. “It serves me right; it’s him,” I said weakly. I felt as if I’d turned into a pillar of ice.
After all these years, why had he appeared at that time? The coincidence taught me a lesson. I promised myself never again to say things about others that I would not say if that person were present—no matter how safe I might feel.
Even if that man had not appeared when he did, my neighbor would still have wondered what I would say about her if she made mistakes. And the strange, cold, and unhappy feeling still would have been there—for I had felt it even before the man appeared. It was there because I was not speaking with love and compassion but rather with unfairness and deceit. For me, the man’s sudden appearance was merely an additional and powerful reminder.
Someone to Trust
Such telling, tangible reminders are rare, and we can’t always count on them. However, we can listen to other reminders, especially the soft voice of the Spirit. When we are alerted that what we’re thinking of saying may be inappropriate or hurtful, we can alter our conversation. When we feel prompted to defend someone who is being discussed in a demeaning manner, we can offer positive words. Such promptings should motivate us to examine our intents and feelings.
Filled with charity, we would never wish to hurt others in any way. We learn from the Sermon on the Mount that when we are tempted to judge others, we need to remember that we are not void of imperfections (seeMatt. 7:1–5).
Years ago I struggled for a time with some personal difficulties. I longed for someone I could really trust and talk to. I quickly eliminated those people I had heard talking about others, revealing confidences, and speaking carelessly. Was there anyone I could turn to? Finally I remembered a loving relative I could trust implicitly.
As we talked and I bared my heart, I knew deep in my soul that my words would never be repeated. How fortunate that during a difficult, challenging time I could find a warm, safe shelter, a caring individual who would treasure my confidence and guard my personal information. Many times since I have vowed to offer that same shelter and warmth for others. I believe avoiding gossip is one of the best ways to invite others in from the cold and promise them the warmth of trust.
Orange Creamsicles or Banana No Bake Cookies
- 1 cup orange juice (fresh or frozen. you could also use orange juice concentrate for a stronger orange flavor)
- 1 cup heavy cream or full fat coconut milk (you could also substitute melted/very soft vanilla ice cream)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon orange extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together.
- Pour mixture into popsicle molds. Let set for 30-60 minutes, then add popsicle sticks. Freeze for another 4-6 hours or until frozen.
- When you’re ready to serve, run some warm water along your popsicle mold to loosen the popsicles and serve immediately.
(From OvenLove )
Banana No Bake Cookies
- 1 medium banana, cut into chunks
- ½ cup chocolate chips/chunks
- 3 tablespoons nut butter (I used PB)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 to 1½ cups rolled oats (gluten-free if necessary)
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine banana chunks, chocolate chips, nut butter, chia seeds, milk and salt. Heat for 2-3 minutes or until just beginning to bubble.
- Using a fork, mash the bananas in chocolate mixture until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, add in vanilla.
- Stir in 1 cup oats until well-coated. If the mixture seems a bit runny, add up to ½ cup more oats until the mixture is scoop-able.
- Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper and let cool in the fridge or freezer until firm. Enjoy the cookies right away or keep refrigerated.
(From OvenLove )
- Telephone Game – learn how rumors and gossip can change from mouth to mouth by playing the classic telephone game!
- For an extra fun twist try Telephone Charades!
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.