Let’s start off with a firm grasp of what gossip is by defining the word itself. Gossip: Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
I find that there are two reasons to gossip; #1 being to share some shocking or exciting news about a friend or acquaintance, usually embellished with exaggeration. #2 Is to spread or share in rumors in order to talk down someone you don’t like in order to get others to dislike them as well.
Let’s talk about #1
In the Bible it says, “A perverse man stirs up dissension and a gossip separates close friends.” (Pr. 16:28) and in Proverbs 11:13 it says, “A gossip BETRAYS a confidence but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” So what is the first thing we see? Gossip destroys friendships or the hope of one. And in that last verse, not only can we call that person a gossip, but a betrayer as well. If you betray a confidence, rest assured that the person you hurt will tell other people about it and being a betraying gossip will become your reputation.
Whenever you get done having a juicy conversation with a pal, do you ever wonder if they talk about you? Do you talk about them? Or perhaps you’ve been talked about and you were hurt to the point where friendship was not an option; or maybe there was forgiveness but your friendship could never be the same because you no longer trust them. And what is a friendship without trust? Not a friendship at all, or at least not a good one.
In Proverbs 20:19 it says, “A gossip betrays a confidence so AVOID a man who talks too much.” Now I’m not telling you to not be friends with someone because you feel they have loose lips. What I’m saying is that if you do feel that way about them, be very choosy and careful about what you share with them. Don’t go sharing deep things or things close to your heart with just anyone.
Now let’s move on to #2
Ok, we all have that person that drives us up the wall right? Now what makes us “feel better” or “less guilty”? Finding someone else who feels the exact same way about them. And what do we do? We talk about that person…we talk smack about that person! We can go on and on about being annoyed with what they post on Instagram or shocked about all the drama they put up on Facebook or Twitter. Or perhaps there can honestly be reason to be concerned but we have taken it to an extreme because we have allowed our emotions to exaggerate everything. The question is, why talk about it? It’s just gonna make us more irritated and it will firmly set us against that person.
Now it says in Proverbs 18:8 and also repeated in 26:22, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” When we talk with a friend about someone we have a mutual dislike for; it’s like watching our favorite chick flick with a giant tub of ice cream. It’s dramatic fun, even though we don’t like to admit that it’s fun. But how do we feel after these binges? Do we feel even a little bit of guilt? Or do we justify our actions by saying, “Well now I don’t feel so bad now that I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
Gossiping in this manner will take your irritation and grow it into anger and/or jealousy, which will then grow into bitterness, which is not an easy thing to get rid of. It says in that verse that it goes into a man’s inmost parts. The influence of whatever we watch on tv, read, listen to, or talk about, makes its way into our hearts. And what’s in our hearts eventually makes its way out. It could manifest itself in general moodiness or we’ll keep talking about that person and it’ll finally get to the very person we speak of. And that of course will cause intense friction or even an argument.
Proverbs 26:20 tells us, “Without wood a fire goes out. Without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” All of that would never happen if we simply choose to take our feelings to Christ instead. I mean who would you rather talk to? God, who can help you with your feelings and forgive you for unjust anger? Or your Friend, who will just fan the flame and make it worse?
Unfortunately gossip runs wild in the Church but God does not want His bride to be a gossip and a betrayer. It grieves His Spirit. 2 Corinthians 12:20 says, “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions (cliques), slander (worse form of gossip), gossip, arrogance (thinking yourself better than everyone), and disorder.” All of those things can stem from gossip alone! It is not harmless or meaningless conversation. It’s never ok.
God’s desire is this: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”(Col.4:6) Salt is a preservative that is tasty, it intensifies flavors, and makes everything delicious. Our conversation should be wholesome and decadent. It should be encouraging, honest, gentle, and kind. There may be times when we need to keep each other accountable, but we can do so with love. Let them know you are advising them in this way because you sincerely care for them.
Now there is a difference between gossip and venting. There are times when our hearts are heavy and we need to talk to a trustworthy person for prayer and advice. That’s totally fine and good.
So let’s keep our conversation full of light and glory for the Lord, so we can have the reputation of a trustworthy person!