Updated: Aug 1, 2020
Gossip- It’s is the quickest piece of information to spread across an office, church, and the media, and is one of the quickest ways to destroy a relationship. The truth is, there is no one on this planet outside of Jesus himself, who has never engaged in some sort of gossip before. However, some people tend to gossip as a way of life. They can’t wait to find out the next piece of juicy information so they can share what they heard with anyone who will listen. If you happen to be a person who is a chronic gossiper, hopefully, this message will cause you to think twice before doing it again. If you are typically not the type of person to engage in gossip, this message is still for you because you will run into people throughout your week who will be excited to share someone else’s business with you.
I like to define gossip as sharing information about a person(s) that is unconfirmed, or was told to an individual in confidence. When someone is engaging in gossip, they are usually not sharing information with the “end game” in mind of helping the individual they are speaking about or speaking to. On the contrary, they are usually sharing this information loosely, without much thought of the repercussions. Gossip is different from venting. Everyone needs a safe space to vent, which can generally be found with a close friend, spouse, or a counselor. When someone is venting, they are attempting to release built up emotions in a healthy manner so they can identify a resolution; whether that is finding internal peace about the situation or figuring out how to resolve an issue. Venting should be done with people who are trustworthy and who you are confident won't share what you say with anyone else, but will give you solid feedback on the situation you. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for venting to make a turn for the worse and become gossip. This happens when a person’s intentions are not solution focused. Instead, they are sharing irrelevant, unconfirmed, or confidential information merely to make themselves feel better, for entertainment, or for mere small talk.
The Bible speaks explicitly against this on many occasions. Ephesians 4:29 says, “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.” Small talk at the expense of sharing someone else’s personal business is not building up others according to their needs. In fact, that can be destructive. If someone shares personal information about themselves with you, that means that they feel comfortable enough with you to do so. In most cases, that also indicates that they trust you to keep what they share to yourself. I, for example, am a pretty private person, so when I share something personal about myself, that means I trust that person enough as a friend to respect my privacy. Even if I didn’t specifically tell that person not to share what I told them with anyone else, I expect that they will keep what I said between the two of us.
Over the years, I've learned the hard way who I could confide in when I found out from other people that what I had shared in confidence with a person was all out there in “the streets.” The bible says in Proverbs 11:13 “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” When it comes to identifying people who you can share your personal business with, it’s crucial that you become very observant. If someone is the type of person that is always volunteering to share personal information with you about people who you don’t even know on that level, that is a sign that you cannot trust that individual with your business. If you notice that a person is slow to speak, doesn’t engage in small talk about others, and when you share something with them, you never hear what you said coming back around to you, that’s someone you can trust. Ideally, we should all strive to be that type of friend to people.
Unfortunately, even if you are the type of person who doesn’t tend to engage in gossip, it can sometimes sneak its way into a conversation that you are a part of. You can be out to dinner with friends and the next thing you know they start talking about all of the personal business of someone at church, work, or an organization you are a part of. There are a few ways you can play situations like that. You can jump into the conversation, by adding your two cents about what you heard, you can play it safe by not saying anything at all, or you can redirect and completely shut down the conversation. The third option is optimal but the hardest one to do. I can tell you now if you go with that option, the people who you shut down are not going to like it. Regardless of how they feel, you have to be able to live with yourself. The longer I’ve journeyed with Christ, the more and more I’ve become convicted in situations when I’ve allowed gossip to go on around me. Since I’m not a confrontational person, my natural inclination is to play it safe, but each and every time I do that, I feel guilty by association because I allowed a toxic conversation to take place around me. When I do that, I believe it is indirectly saying to the people that I’m okay with the content of the conversation.
In contrast, if I would have shut down the gossip that was taking place in front of me, I’m sure those people would think twice before bringing gossip around me again. At the end of the day, I understand that no one is perfect, and sometimes we will find ourselves gossipping here and there. However, I do want this message to challenge people not to make gossip a norm of life. It can destroy relationships, it can damage a person’s reputation, and it is doesn’t benefit anyone who listens. At the end of the day, I want people to know me as the type of person they can trust, versus being known as the woman with the big mouth. After reading this, I hope you desire the same.
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Other Scriptures to Meditate on:
Proverbs 16: 28-A perverse man stirs up dissension and a gossip separates a close friend.
Proverbs 21:23- He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself from calamity.
Psalms 39:1-I watch my ways, and keep my tongue from sin.