I know I have written about this more than once and even shared some of the same thoughts but it bears repeating because it is an easy temptation to fall into.
The sin of gossip is said to be:
- Sharing BAD NEWS
- BEHIND THEIR BACK
- Out of a BAD HEART[iii]
Let’s not be fooled. Gossip is not something to be taken lightly.
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him… a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16, 19
I’ve heard people say it’s not gossip if it’s true. Wrong!
If we stopped with the first part of verse 16 we may come to that conclusion but we would be wrong because the second part of the verse of that which God hates is sowing discord among brothers. So sharing bad news, behind their back, with a bad heart – sows discord. Whether it is true or false – talking about others in such a way that sheds negative light on them or effects their reputation in an unflattering light is gossip.
You know when you are talking to someone or perhaps listening to someone when there is a check in your spirit that this may be gossip – in my experience, it probably is. Heed the Spirit’s warning. It’s okay to say, “You know, now that I think about it, it’s better if I not share that” or “Never mind, I don’t need to say that.” I know from experience that when I’ve said that, the gossip almost wants to burst out of me, it’s the enemy redoubling his efforts – resist him!
Ask yourself the question: Would I share this if the person was here?[iv]
I also found that if I find myself lowering my voice so as not to be heard by others MAY be (not always) an indicator that I shouldn’t be saying what I’m saying.
I find that unless I have an advance plan to stop gossip when someone else is telling me something, I will probably end up gossiping. I know for me, I don’t want to offend the person by cutting them off even if I know we shouldn’t be talking about the other person.
Mrs. Newheiser offers a few statements we can have in our holster ready to pull out as the situation warrants:
- “I don’t really need to know about this.”
- “Let’s talk about something else.”
- “This sounds negative and perhaps we should not talk about it.”
- “Have you spoken to this person about this?”
Let me add a few more:
- “I’m sorry to cut you off but this makes me uncomfortable, would you mind if we talk about something else?”
- “I’d rather not talk about him/her, would you mind if we change the subject?”
It’s not easy. There is something about gossip that can draw us in… The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.[v] Further in the same Proverb: Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.[vi] For good or ill, we will reap what our mouths sow.
When we gossip we act as if we are the judge of all the world rather than God.[vii] That is some serious stuff. No wonder God hates it.
To put off gossip, what do we put on instead?
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.[viii]
- Is what I’m saying helpful?
- Am I building others up according to their needs?
- Is it beneficial to those I’m talking to? Or those who overhear me?
- Am I building unity or am I fostering division or strife?
- Am I loving my neighbor as myself? (Both the person I’m speaking to and the person I’m speaking about?)
As I’m writing this I am recalling to mind my mother’s words (probably your mother’s too): If you don’t have something nice to say about someone don’t say anything at all.
Now before I close this long Victory Call let me say this and it’s VERY IMPORTANT:
Mrs. Newheiser reminded that sometimes it is important that we share bad news, behind someone’s back such as in cases of abuse.[ix] I wholeheartedly agree, do not remain silent – don’t gossip but rather speak up to someone, like a pastor or a counselor, who can help you. The purpose in speaking up is to get help for yourself and for the abuser too.
That being said, let me conclude. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21); let’s commit to be life-givers in every aspect of our speech. This is ANOTHER area where I have much room to grow. How about you?
Written By Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and provides ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at email@example.com.
Think About This: “Don’t bother to give God instructions; just report for duty.” – Corrie ten Boom
The Daily Bible Reading: Reflection | You can download our 2021 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here.