I showed up to a get-together with a covered dish and some juicy news to share. It was an opportunity to shock my friends and therefore receive some odd sense of satisfaction, attention, and praise for revealing such scandalous information. Before I could get it out, one of the ladies asked,
“Who has some good gossip?”
Now I was the one who was shocked! We can’t “gossip”. That’s so sinful! How dare she just come out and say that!
At least my friend wasn’t in denial about it. She called it what it was. She named it and it made me think twice about what I was about to reveal. Good southern Christian girls like me don’t like to name our sin because acknowledgement brings that uninvited guest named Conviction to spoil our party.
Gossip seeps its’ way into my perfectly innocent conversations, even ones that start out to be godly and life-giving. It is anything but harmless and we have to stop.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein
on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
I didn’t recognize gossip as a problem in my life until my own filthy laundry became the hot topic. When people have been whispering about you, it is beyond hurtful and embarrassing. It permanently damages friendships and deteriorates trust. It’s anything but harmless.
God, help me not to harm others with my desire for entertaining conversation.
Being highly experienced in this area, I’ve narrowed gossip down to four types so it will be easier to recognize the next time it sneaks into your conversation.
1. Secret Telling Gossip
“Promise you won’t tell.”
Even if you are dying to spill someone else’s secret and you know you can trust your best friend, it’s still gossip. If it’s not YOUR business, keep it to yourself.
“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
therefore do not associate with a gossip.” -Proverbs 20:19
2. Prodding Gossip
“How’s Sarah? I heard she’s going through a tough time…”
If you are on the receiving end of a gossipy loaded question, you are not required to answer! People will respect that you politely refuse to give up information and you will prove yourself to be trustworthy.
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer,
contention quiets down.” -Proverbs 26:20
3. Angry Gossip
“Her marriage is falling apart, so she’s taking it out on me!”
Someone hurts you so you tell others all of the unattractive things you know about her life. Don’t let your short term emotions cause long term effects. You will regret it later.
“Argue your case with your neighbor,
And do not reveal the secret of another.” -Proverbs 25:9
4. Concerned Friend Gossip
“You need to pray for our friend because you won’t believe what happened…”
Of course we need to pray for and support each other. Just always make sure to keep your motives and your sincerity in check when you reveal anything personal about someone else’s life.
As you go back to your workplace, play dates, and PTA meetings, keep in mind what God’s Word says about gossip. Learn to recognize it, call it by name, and put a stop to it. Don’t let this “innocent” sin creep its’ way into what could otherwise be sacred spaces of trust, encouragement and friendship.
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.” –Psalm 141:3