Gossip – are you betraying others with your words?

So what exactly is gossip? It is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It is most often made up of useless or spiteful tales and is almost always done behind the back of the subject of the gossip.

Many of the magazines which can be bought at a newsagent are full of gossip. They tell of what the Hollywood stars are currently up to. Given the sales of these magazines it is obvious that gossip is a big seller.

Gossip is a problem for everyone because we all like to hear news and tell it others – particularly what we call “juicy” news.

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts. (Proverbs Ch.18:8)
What does the Bible say about gossip?

God has nothing good to say about gossip.

…a gossip separates close friends. (Proverbs Ch.16:28).

Gossip can keep believers out of the kingdom – it is classified as a sin.

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans Ch.1:29-32)

If we love our neighbour, we will not tell stories about them or betray their trust.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew Ch.7:12)

With this verse in mind, we should stop gossiping for no one likes to be the subject of gossip and rumours.

Gossip breaks down relationships
Gossip can do long term damage

Making up or spreading false reports was strictly forbidden by God.

Do not pass along untrue reports. Do not cooperate with an evil man by affirming on the witness stand something you know is false. (Exodus Ch.23:1) The Living Bible

Gossip, slander, and false witnessing undermined families, strained neighbourhood cooperation, and made chaos of the justice system. Destructive gossip still causes problems. Even if you do not initiate a lie, you become responsible if you pass it along. Don’t circulate rumours – rather stop them.

Gossip has lasting wounds

Gossip is often more harmful and lasting than physical wounds.

Telling lies about someone is as harmful as hitting him with and axe, or wounding him with a sword, or shooting him with a sharp arrow. (Proverbs Ch.25:18) The Living Bible

Lying is vicious and can have permanent effects like those of a stab wound. Passing on a bit of gossip can be like stabbing the victim with a sword. Stay silent rather than gossip!

Gossip is a waste of valuable time

Keep yourself busy! It is at times when you are inactive when people start to gossip.

As for younger widows, …they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. (1 Timothy 5:11-13)
Yet we hear that some of you are living in laziness, refusing to work, and wasting your time in gossiping. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we appeal to such people – we command them – to quiet down, get to work, and earn their own living. (2 Thessalonians CH.3:11-12) The Living Bible

A lazy person who doesn’t work ends up filling his or her time with less than helpful activities, like gossip. When we hear rumours and hearsay it is tantalizing and exciting to hear – you feel like one of the insiders. But these same stories can pull people down. Rather than wasting time listening to these stories, look for a task, to do for Christ or for your family. Then start working on the task. This is a much more positive use of your time.

How do you know whether you are gossiping?

One hint as to whether you are gossiping may be how much you talk!

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. (Proverbs Ch.20:19)

When you are telling a story about someone ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How certain am I that the facts are correct?
  2. Was the information given in confidence?
  3. Have I checked the facts with the person involved?
  4. Am I telling this story to help build up others in Christ?
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians Ch.4:29)

The message throughout the Bible is very clear – don’t gossip! All it does in causes hurt and damage. God rewards the just and the righteous, so do as God requests and avoid gossip – stay trustworthy.

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. (Proverbs Ch.11:13)