Raindrops seem harmless, small and unassuming. But they are able to cause significant soil erosion and displacement. In an article on soil erosion from the University of Iowa, agronomist Mahdi Al-Kaisi writes,
In a normal rainfall, raindrops range in size from 1 to 7 millimeters in diameter and hit the ground going as fast as 20 miles per hour. The impact of millions of raindrops hitting the bare soil surface can be incredible, dislodging soil particles and splashing them 3 to 5 feet away. A heavy rainstorm may splash as much as 90 tons of soil per acre. However, the majority of the soil splashed is not immediately lost from the field. Most of the splashed soil particles don’t leave the field; they clog surface pores, which in turn reduces water infiltration, increases water runoff, and increases soil erosion.
Similarly, gossip and negative language can seem insignificant. But just as a each raindrop displaces many soil particles, each word has an impact on the individuals involved. James 3:5-6 says,
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
Gossip is unassuming, but powerful. Raindrops affect the overall functioning of a field, and gossip clogs and interferes with the success of relationships. Eventually, enough damage is caused that the relationship erodes.
The serious impact of gossip is made clear in scripture. Christ explains that we will have to “give account for every careless word” (Matthew 12:36). By watching what we say, and respecting the power of our words, we can improve our spiritual growth and maintain healthy relationships.