God created human beings as social being. As the term implies, these social beings just don’t like being alone. In general, we like to be with other people, and we want to speak about others. The ability to communicate gives mankind some wonderful blessings, but the devil still uses human contact as a way to spread sin and sorrow. We are all painfully aware of the harm which our words can do. The Bible discusses the risks that language faces. James says the tongue of man is a fire and an unruly evil full of mortal poison (James 3:6, 8). There is one of all the sins committed with the tongue that is especially a problem for some Christians — the sin of gossip.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “gossip” as “a person chatting or repeating idle speech and rumors, especially about other people’s private affairs.” Gossip, therefore, is casual chatter and gossip about other people’s private affairs. The word “slander” is closely related to gossip, which means “the utterance of a false statement or statements in the presence of another person, harmful to the character or reputation of a third party.” The Bible also uses the terms “talebearer” and “whisperer.”
Gossip can be addictive to some people like any other sin, which gives one satisfaction and pleasure. Paul warned Timothy and Titus that certain people are in danger of being gossips and busybodies (1 Tim. 5:13; Titus 2:3). Although we all know that these passages explicitly discuss women, men may be equally guilty of that sin. Do not accept, excuse, or overlook a problem with the sin of gossip. Like every other sin, one who has a gossip problem needs to work hard to overcome that sin.
Christians and Gossips
Gossip is simply speaking in a derogatory way about someone who could cause others to do the same. This is always deliberate and intended to destroy the integrity or reputation of others, or simply to point out certain people’s flaws (or sins). While you might think gossip is limited to “mean girls” at school or disgruntled staff in an office, gossip is everywhere! And in Circles of Christians.
Actually, I would suggest that gossip among Christians could actually be worse! Yeah, I know it’s probably going to ruffle a few feathers, but generally speaking, the truth does!
Often, when we feel they are acting “not-so-Christian” or doing things that don’t conform to the Bible, we feel the need to call out other believers. We seem to forget that we were (and still are) sinners too, and that we are fallible to the enemy’s tactics (and gossip is one of such tactics).
If we face gossip among other faithful or among the rest of society, it is necessary to avoid being dragged into it. And most importantly, we are working to stop it spreading.
Gossip affects us in so many ways! Small talk among friends can erupt rapidly into a much larger conversation, which is overheard by others who are indirectly involved in the discussion. Many times the stuff that’s being talked about is just speculation without any real evidence. And what good can come from the debate, even if there’s “proof”?
As Christians, with the same caring intention that Jesus would have used, we will always use our words. We must avoid using our words to hurt others or break them down at all times. We will also use our words to build up others and talk life into them.
And if we have the ability, we will use them to inspire others to do the same.
The Spirit Behind Gossiping
Why exactly do people chattering about one another? Although gossip is not anything new, it has become more “natural” for the tabloids and media to speak about others and to call others for their faults. But we have to remember those are the enemy’s tools!
As with those who bully others, gossip is often meant to make somebody feel better about themselves by making someone else look bad. And for those who fan the gossip fire, well, it is so much more fun to have a scandalous discussion than to talk about the good in someone else (another social media impact).
Some are just so lonely or not happy with their own lives that they need the drama and controversy to live vicariously through another. Whatever the reason, gossip destroys people — their esteem, their families, their lives. And gossip is entirely against the will of God for our life.
Easy is the core spirit behind the gossip-Satan. He knows our – and others’ – vulnerabilities and uses gossip as a way to allow us to do his dirty work.
When you chatter about someone else, you do the work of the enemy to tear us apart as a body of Christ. Why? For what? Since gossip comes from a disgusting, despicable place!
The Harm Caused By Gossip
Gossip isn’t an innocent habit. The Bible warns of the harm that gossip, slander, lying, and talebearing will do.
- It leaks secrets.
“A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” (Prov. 11:13). Note a few things about this verse. Second, a talebearer is one who “goes around” searching for his tales to be dispensed. Gossip is a deliberate act and not incidental. It is a deliberate attempt to injure another human. Secondly, this passage shows that the talebearer is one who has broken trust. He or she has been trusted with a secret whose content can injure a person and has chosen to breach that confidence to enjoy the pleasure of spreading gossip. A violation of this kind will damage a relationship beyond repair (Prov. 18:19). A decent man should respect the faith of a friend and preserve the integrity of such friend.
- It encourages conflict.
A talebearer is one who tells tales he shouldn’t tell. The object of these stories is not to educate and alert men but to cause strife for the talebearer’s amusement. God hates those who deliberately sow discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19). Christians shall be builders of peace, not troublemakers (Matt. 5:9; Heb. 12:14).
- It sets friends apart.
“An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.” (Prov. 16:27-28).
Gossip, talebearing, and whispering are devices used by someone who wants to cause trouble. He digs dirt on people, whispers it on a few people, and watches the devastation spread like flames. False tales and the secrets exposed will turn people against each other. The harm done by gossip is so serious it can kill unity.
How to Overcome the Sin of Gossip
Gossip is a sin that causes incalculable amounts of damage, not a harmless habit. A willingness to participate in gossip should not be excused by saying, “this is just the way I am,” or rationalized by suggesting that by telling them and warning them about others, we are doing people a favor. As Christian; like all other sins, we must strive to overcome the temptation of gossip. Gossip can be resolved by self-control practice: keeping one’s mouth shut, separating oneself from the “grapevine,” and trying to find pleasure in something other than becoming a talebearer. We will do well before we repeat it, to ask the following questions.
- Is that true?
If it’s not true, then this is a lie. By definition, Slander tells something which is not true. A Christian has nothing to do with divulging a lie. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.” (Prov. 18:13, 17). It’s easy to draw an imprecise conclusion when we hear only one side of the story. When we take the time to get all the facts before we act on or discuss a matter, we will save ourselves some embarrassment, and others some grief.
- Would it build up or otherwise?
Anger, contention, and conflict are brought about by gossip and slander. A talebearer’s tools will never contribute to brotherly peace and edification. Our words have power both for good and for evil. We have to pursue the things that build our brothers and sisters up, not tear them down. Negative things about others often need to be said; people need to be warned, and from negative examples, useful lessons can be learned. Great care and understanding, however, must be practiced when addressing another person’s misdeeds with others.
- Have I held a conversation with them yet?
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matt. 18:15). Private issues must remain private. Usually, when one sins against us, we want to speak to all but that which the Lord tells us. That’s how the gossip starts. If we follow the Lord’s directions, we will stop gossip. Malicious gossip can often be prevented if we take the stories to the person who’s the target of the gossip. Rarely does the talebearer want anyone to investigate the facts concerning his story. He just wants to believe it and spread it to others. If we care so much to spread a story, shouldn’t we worry about getting the facts straight first? When talebearers know that on their evidence, we’re going to “mark them,” they’re going to stop coming to us with gossip.
- Have I examined myself?
Jesus teaches us the importance of looking after ourselves before we get involved in other people’s affairs (Matt. 7:3-5). Such a hypocrite would spread lies about other people’s flaws while covering up larger flaws in his own life.
- Why do I really want to do this?
What motivates me to talk to someone else about this? Do I seek to accomplish well, or do I get some gratification from repeating this matter? The reality is that some people just indulge in the gossip because they love it.
Some individuals behave like having no other choice but to repeat a matter. That just isn’t real. We’re not going to ignore sin, but if we love the individual and want what’s best for them, we ‘re going to shield the matter from the public eye and spare our loved one a lot of embarrassment. When we love the satisfaction of gossip, we’ll replay the matter and see the resulting devastation.
- If the same were done to me, would I like it?
We wouldn’t want people to spread lies and rumors about us, nor would we want friends to betray our trust and advertise before others our secret struggles and transgressions. When we don’t want others to do it to us, so we don’t have to do that to them. When we mistreat others in the way we talk to them, we may expect others to do us the same.
Gossip is a sin that seeks to ruin someone else for our own personal pleasure. To a child of God, it was still unfitting. ” Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people” (Leviticus 19:16). If we find that we have a problem with the sin of gossip, we should not overlook it or try to excuse it. We must work hard, overcome it, and become a Christian whose words are both pleasing to God and a source of constant encouragement to others.