Gossip is a sin that is infectious. It destroys our own spiritual life, the life of those listening, and the life of the one being talked about. It has the capability of ruining friendships and communities. It can separate close friends and it can also rend churches in two. Therefore, gossip is a sin that must be spoken about so that we can put it to death.
A Couple of Definitions
I would define gossip as wickedly speaking to another person about information regarding someone else with evil intentions. Mitchell, In a book titled Resisting Gossip (which is where a bulk of this blog post is coming from), defined gossip saying, “Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.”
Why Do We Commit This Sin?
I think the book of Proverbs gives us insight into this when it says, “The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (18:8; 26:22). Choice morsels are tidbits of food that are easy to consume because they are so incredibly delicious. They are like that bag of potato chips in your pantry or that box of sour patch kids on the coffee table. The eye sees them, the palate savors them, discipline goes to the way side, and before long, your inmost parts feel the repercussions of such indulgence!
That is exactly how gossip is. For some reason, our hearts love gossip. Gossip is delightful to the ears, rousing to the brain, and gratifying to the flesh. This is apparent when one just looks at how much profit comes from gossip magazines and television shows. Also, you cannot even watch major news outlets without seeing them generate certain gossip articles because that is what the general public desires to see. And, deep down inside, we know it is not just the general public that likes gossip. Even we, as Christians, still see a certain desire deep within us to speak or to listen to gossip! Since this is the case, we must always be ready to slay the sin of gossip as it rears its head in our lives!
Who is Guilty of Gossip?
First, the one gossiping is guilty. This is clear throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The book of Proverbs constantly speaks of the evil of gossip (Prov. 11:13; 18:8; 20:19; 26:22). And often times, throughout the Old Testament, gossip and slander are used interchangeably! Then, within the New Testament, gossip is always listed within the sin lists (Ro. 1:28-32; 2 Cor. 12:20). And even throughout these sin lists, gossip is always listed right next to slander. I say that just to show you that both gossip and slander come from a heart motivated to do evil against its neighbor! Thus, it is clear that the one gossiping is in sin.
And secondly, the one gossiped too is in sin. This is something that we do not think about all that often, but it is most certainly true. Proverbs says, “Wrong doers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander” (17:4). And honestly, if wrong doers weren’t so eager to listen to gossip, then people wouldn’t gossip! Regarding this, Spurgeon said, “In slander as well as robbery, the receiver is as bad as the thief. If there were not gratified hearers of ill reports, there would be an end of the trade of spreading them.” Thus, it is clear that those listening to gossip are in sin as well.
3 Different Types of Bad News as Gossip
First, you can just simply share bad news. So, if you are sharing lies about somebody else, whether you know they are lies or not, then it is gossip. It is important to note that you may actually believe what somebody told you is true. However, you did not bother to verify the truthfulness of the information. You just simply went about telling others what you heard. All the while the story you were spreading was actually false. This is gossip. It is also important to note that if you know what you are saying is false, then you are guilty of slander!
Secondly, you can share bad news about somebody else. This is when you are actually telling other people truthful things about another person that should not be told. So, you are not spreading lies, but are speaking about truths that should only be known within a small inner circle of people. For example, a friend tells you that they fell into the sin of sexual immorality with their fiancé. That information is to stay between the two of you. However, you, being eager to tell others, tell somebody else about it. This is gossip. And as the book of Proverbs says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (11:13).
Thirdly, you can share bad news for somebody else. This is when you share bad news that should exclusively be for another person. For example, you overhear that Lady Jane is going to divorce her husband because he doesn’t make her happy anymore. The husband has no idea that his wife is going to divorce him. And even though he does not know, you begin to tell other people. Before long, he is the only one that does not know about this bad news that should have been exclusively for him. This, too, is gossip.
Five Different Types of Gossipers
Let’s look at the two verses below:
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Pr. 11:13).
“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much”(Pr. 20:19).
The Hebrew word translated as gossip here literally means, “an informer or peddler of secrets.” These people are spies. They listen to each conversation, gather in a great deal of information, and then use this information to their own advantage. This is what spies do, right? They accumulate so much information regarding both friend and foe that no matter what situation they are in, they have the power and advantage because they have the information. To these types of gossipers, knowledge is power. And they will share this knowledge to whoever they want at whatever time they want without regard for anybody but themselves. Personally, I think about the paparazzi when I think about this type of gossiper. They gather as much information as they can regarding celebrities, politicians, and athletes, and, no matter how detrimental the information may be, they sell it to the highest bidding gossip magazine!
Let’s look at the verse below:
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Pr. 16:28).
The Hebrew word translated as gossip hear literally means, “grumbler or complainer.” These people gossip by grumbling. They usually are upset by something that somebody else did or said, so they seek to get other people just as upset at that person as they are. We usually cover up this type of gossip by saying, “I just need to vent,” or “I just need to get this off my chest.” Then we relentlessly spew out things about the particular person that upset us in a such a way that will lead others to not like them either! This is the goal of the grumbler.
And make no mistake, this type of gossip has a profound impact on how others view the person they are talking about. Regarding this, Charles Bridges said, “The thought indulged only for a moment brings suspicion, distrust, coldness; and often it ends in the separation of chief friends.” The people we talk to may never view the person we talk about in a favorable manner ever again. That is a scary thought! Personally, I think that this is the type of gossip that we, as Christians, struggle with most.
This type of gossiper is the one we usually think about when we think about gossip. It is the person that is filled with revenge, and thus, begins to expose falsehoods or shameful truths about a particular individual to do as much damage to them as possible.
If you know what a chameleon is, then you know where this is going. A chameleon is a lizard that changes colors based on its environment. Therefore, a gossiper who is the chameleon is the one that gets in on gossiping about a particular individual because other people are doing it. So, they are fearful of losing peoples approval therefore they jump in with a little gossip to win people’s favor. It is important to note that the chameleon can also be identified as an individual that is being entertained or laughing at certain gossip. So, they may not verbally say anything about a person, but they are still sinfully partaking in what is being said!
This comes from the verse below:
“But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (1 Timothy 5:11-13).
The busybody is the person that does not have any affairs of their own, so they get involved in the affairs of others. They simply do not do anything profitable, and before long, speaking about other people becomes their entertainment. This makes me think about that “book club” that never discusses the book, but rather focuses on stuff going on in the neighborhood!
To Be Continued!
This blog is already close to 1700 words. Therefore, I am going to leave you with just this, and tomorrow I will post another blog on how to put the sin of gossip to death and begin speaking in a manner worthy of the gospel! So, do some introspection with what you have read above, and know that the blood of Christ is sufficient enough to cleanse a garment filled with the filth of sinful gossip!