The topic of this blog has been on my heart lately and is one that affects everyone, whether they are a Christian or not. It’s prevalent wherever there are people, because people talk. And with talk comes gossip. And gossip, mixed with ill feelings, can quickly turn into slander.
Whether it’s a passing remark or a mean spirited comment intended for harm, gossip can destroy the best of reputations and the most solid of characters. As James 3:5 states, “the tongue … can set a great forest on fire.” If you talk about someone to another person, whether a friend or a stranger, you must be extremely careful. Especially if what you have to say isn’t the entire truth or an out-right assumption or fabrication.
First, let’s take a look at what the Bible says about gossiping. Solomon, who asked God specifically for wisdom (and got it), had a lot to say about the subject.
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (Prov. 11:13)
“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Prov. 16:28)
“The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice. A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” (Prov. 18:4-8)
“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” (Prov. 20:19)
“When arguing with your neighbor, don’t betray another person’s secret. Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation.” (Prov. 25:9-10)
“Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” (Prov. 25:18)
“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Prov. 26:20)
King David was the victim of gossip and recalled how hurtful it was:
“But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask. They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere. All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst.” (Psalm 41:5-7)
Do you “imagine” the worst about someone? Do you jump to conclusions? Blow things out of proportion? Or betray secrets told to you in confidence? As children of God, saved by grace and called to a higher purpose, we must refrain from doing such hurtful things.
The body of Christ is meant to be a place of righteousness, unity, support and security. If one of its members is spreading gossip about another member, the body no longer has unity; it is in dissention. The Bible commands Christians to encourage one another and speak kind words about each other.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Eph. 4:29)
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:31-32)
“Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.” (Psalm 15:1-3)
Most people love a juicy or exciting story. Tabloids, entertainment websites, reality television; they all feed into the carnal desire for scandal and are meant for shock-value. As Christians, our ways of interacting with others should be the complete opposite of society’s ways. We should be different, set apart.
The next time someone comes to you with a piece of gossip about someone else, immediately change the direction of the conversation and don’t buy into it. And the next time you personally feel the compulsion to gossip, stop and think: Would I want to be talked about like this? Then ask God to help you redirect your focus from other people’s private lives to Him and His calling for your life.