For 30 years he worked as a Soviet spy, betraying British secrets to the KGB. For this, H.A.R. (Kim) Philby has been called “the Napoleon of deception, the greatest mole of them all.” A New York Times editorial said of Philby and his fellow double-agents, “Beyond information, their greatest service to Moscow was to spread the poison of suspicion, setting ally against ally.”

The poison of suspicion—could it also be a description of subtle, calculating gossip among Christians? I’m not referring to blatantly passing along tidbits of failure to other believers. I’m thinking about divisive barbs that cast doubt on a person’s reputation or integrity by a raised eyebrow and a questioning tone of voice.

One of the most sobering lists in the Bible is God’s itemization of the seven things He hates, beginning with “a proud look” and concluding with “one who sows discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:16-19). Between those two are five other acts of betrayal, each represented by parts of the body: tongue, hands, heart, feet, and lips.

Lord, help us to avoid spreading the poison of suspicion. Instead, make us Your faithful agents of encouragement and love.