Gossip or slander was condemned in the Old and New Testament.¹ Gossip is the spreading of rumors or idle, fruitless tales. It is usually negative and involves “juicy” details that incite our interest and curiosity. Proverbs talks gossip being the divulging of personal information and secrets.²
Four Questions to Use in Helping You Identify Gossip.
- Is it judgmental, hyper-critical, or fault-finding in nature? Christians are not to be judgmental, cynical, and hyper-critical people. We should not always find fault with others and be negative towards them. We are to be merciful and treat others as we want to be treated. Gossip often finds its roots in a condemning attitude rooted in pride.
- Is it false? Gossip can be either true, false, or most commonly, a mixture of the two. So often when gossip is being spread, the party speaking only knows half of the story. If we do not know something is true, then we certainly should not be spreading it!
- Is it intended to cause harm to the individual who is being spoken about? Gossip is often spoken because of a personal disdain, hatred, or jealousy for the other person.³ Slander and gossip are spoken because they just don’t like the other person. When we find ourselves getting a sinful pleasure or joy out of spreading someone else’s problems, even if they are true, we are in the wrong.
- Is it intended to entertain? A chief part of the draw of gossip is its entertaining nature. It entertains us, and we also are able to become the “star of the show” and entertain others. We are the one in the know who has some information, still unbeknownst to others. The New Testament speaks about idle people who occupy their time with gossiping.¹¹
These four questions will help us control our tongues and avoid the sin of gossip. Gossip is not a light issue, it is a serious sin that hurts people and the church badly.
In the next post, we will clarify when sharing negative information is not gossip.
¹ – Lev. 19:6, Prov. 6:19; Mat. 12:36, 15:19; 2 Cor. 12:20, Titus 2:3, 3:2; 1 Peter 2:1, 3:10
² – Prov. 11:13, 20:19
³ – 1 Tim. 3:11, 1 Thess. 5:15, James 4:11
¹¹ – 1 Tim. 5:13, 2 Thess. 3:11