Gossip. If we’re honest, we’ve all either done it or have been tempted to do it.
But it’s ok, right? After all, it’s just a few “harmless” words shared with another.
That’s not the way God sees it. As a matter of fact, gossip and slander are more serious than we may have previously imagined. Several verses in the Bible command us to steer clear of this misuse of the tongue:
Wow! If you want a lot of bang for the buck, this is your verse. Of the seven things that are an abomination to God, three of them are tied to gossip. Gossip can and does cause strife among people. It can, and often does, become an embellished outpouring of words that can quickly turn into lies.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless ~ James 1:26. When we seek to use our tongue to spread “information” about others, we show the true condition of our hearts. For those watching, this is anything but an effective witness for Christ.
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy ~ Psalm 101:5. God is serious about what He thinks about slander and the slanderer.
…Whoever utters slander is a fool ~ Proverbs 10:18.
Ever been betrayed by a close friend through gossip? Gossip ruins friendships.
Gossip isn’t something that just affects others superficially or minimally. It is something that affects others to their “inmost parts.” It’s hurtful and painful. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. ~ Proverbs 18:8.
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler ~ Proverbs 20:19. This is one of my favorites on the topic because it lays it out like it is…we aren’t to even associate with a “babbler.” How many times have we found ourselves listening to someone sharing gossip?
Perhaps this verse says it best: You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness ~ Exodus 23:1.
Finally, James 3:9-10 is perhaps one of the most humbling verses on the topic. With the same mouth, we both bless and curse people.
Beware of these gossip traps and seek, with the Lord’s help, to avoid them:
1. “Guess what I just heard…” these five words are usually a precursor to juicy information about someone. Information that can destroy a reputation, harm someone and/or their family, and even ruin a life.
2. “We really need to pray for ______. She’s…” Gossip can come disguised as a prayer request. But God knows our hearts – better than we know them. He knows if we are truly concerned about someone, or if we’re sharing with itching ears the latest “news” about someone, declaring in our judgmental attitude, that they need prayer.
3. She deserves my slander after what she did to me. Revenge. A topic for another time; however, super pertinent for this post as well. Sometimes people spread lies as a form of retaliation. When someone has hurt you, let that be their issue, not yours, as you seek the Lord’s assistance in forgiving them. Don’t become just as sinful as they are by seeking retribution with the sharing of spiteful words.
4. Churches can become Gossip Clubs. Unfortunately, churches, especially small ones, as well as Bible studies, can become clubs where gossip freely flows. Gossip shouldn’t be something we engage in period, and especially not in God’s house or at a function where we are learning about Him.
Gossip and slander are such an issue in today’s world that some homeowner’s insurance policies have “slander coverage.”
So, what if you are on the receiving end of gossip? Not an easy place to be. I’ll never forget the day we discovered someone was sharing hateful untruths about our family. The one good thing to come out of it was that it humbled me in knowing that was something I didn’t want to do to someone else. In a later post, I’ll discuss how to handle it when you are the subject of a gossiping tongue.