Yesterday I posted a blog talking about the sin of gossip. In it, we discussed what gossip is, why we succumb to gossip all too often, how both the gossiper and the one being gossiped to are both in sin, and the different types of gossipers that we are prone to be. Since we talked about the sin of gossip yesterday, today we are going to talk about how we can put this sin to death and begin to live in a manner worthy of the Lord. A bulk of this information comes from a book called Resisting Gossip (Just to give credit where credit is due).
Glorifying God in our Listening
Yesterday, we learned that the person listening to gossip is in sin. Remember how Proverbs says, “Wrong doers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander” (17:4). So, one reason gossip is rampant all over the world is because there are always people that are eager to listen to it. Yet we, as Christians, must not fall into the sin of enjoying gossip with our ears. I will discuss how to do this below.
Pray and Weigh
As you are in a conversation, maintain a heart of prayer as you weigh what is being said. Really think through what the other person is communicating in order to know whether it is gossip or not. If it is gossip, try to figure out how serious the gossip is. To gauge this, you can always think about how the person being talked about would respond if they were to overhear this conversation. If they would feel hurt, offended, saddened, or betrayed then it is most certainly gossip. And as you evaluate all that is said, ask the Lord to give you wisdom in order to know how to respond.
“A gossip betrays confidence, so avoid a man who talks too much” (Pr. 20:19).
If you know somebody that incessantly talks, and you are aware that they gush out stuff about other people all the time, then just avoid them. This will not only protect you from being gossiped to, it will also protect you from being gossiped about. . . . trust me, if they will gossip to you about other people then they will gossip about you to other people!
It is important to note that you can’t always avoid the gossiper. This is the case if you work with them or if they are in your family. In situations like these, seek to avoid the conversation that the gossiper is trying to initiate. So, if they are in the midst of talking about somebody, then seek to steer the conversation a different route with a question. This can be as simple as asking, “How was everybody’s weekend?” Some people may think you are strange, but you really just loved your neighbor well in nipping that conversation in the bud!
“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Pr. 17:9).
“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs” (Pr. 10:12).
Rather than listening to people expose shameful truths about other people, earnestly seek to cover other people’s blemishes to the glory of God and out of love for neighbor. If somebody walks up to you and says, “I probably should not say this but. . . .” respond saying, “It’s okay. For both of our sakes don’t say it.” This is covering the blemishes of the person that was about to gossiped about.
This could also mean defending the one being talked about. If you know that what is being said about a particular person is not true, then speak into the conversation saying, “I actually talked to him yesterday and that is not true.” In doing this, you are preserving your neighbor’s image and reputation by covering up that falsehood with truth.
Go to the One Being Gossiped About
If somebody is gossiping about another person, then go to the specific person being gossiped about in order to find out if there was any truth in what was said. This is most certainly what we would want from a neighbor that over hears false claims about us. So why not love our neighbor as we would love ourselves in these situations?
Glorifying God in our Talking
Now we are going to discuss a few ways we can refrain from gossiping. Thinking through these before we say something will help us to put off gossip, and to put on practical holiness.
Say Nothing at All
“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Pr. 10:19).
“A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Pr. 17:27-28).
This is pretty self-explanatory. One of the best ways to refrain from gossiping is to simply not say anything. This works in every situation. If somebody confides in you about something and tells you not to tell anybody, then don’t tell anybody. If somebody upsets you and you feel a desire to complain to somebody else about them, just keep quiet and use words with restraint!
Commend the Commendable
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).
Within your conversations, hone in on the commendable aspects of a certain individual and talk about those. Make sure every word you utter in the midst of a conversation will prove to be edifying to yourself, the people you are talking too, and the person you are talking about. You want a river of gracious speech flowing from your mouth that will serve to strengthen other people’s spiritual lives.
Talk to People, Not About Them
A bulk of gossip flows from the fact that we are too cowardly to speak to people directly. So, somebody offends us. We are too cowardly to approach them and tell them that we do not agree with what they said. Therefore, we do not address them directly. Rather, we harbor bitterness against them, go to a close friend group or a spouse, and then talk about them behind their back. This is not good! If we would boldly approach the people that offend, hurt, or demean us to resolve conflict, then we would not feel so tempted to gossip to others about them.
Talk to the Lord About Them, Not Other People
Leonard Ravenhill is believed to have said, “Notice, we never pray for folks we gossip about, and we never gossip about the folks for whom we pray! Prayer is a great deterrent.” And this is true isn’t it? Therefore, be sure to take the people you feel so inclined to gossip about to the Lord in prayer. Your feelings of bitterness and hatred for that individual will slowly die as you stand before the throne of grace petitioning the Lord on their behalf.
If we can put gossip to death and begin controlling our tongue in a manner worthy of the Lord, then we will be the salt of the earth and a light to the world in a gossip saturated society. And, if you are like me and have sinfully enjoyed gossip with the ear or the tongue, then rest assured knowing that we have a Blessed Savior who has never delighted in gossip with either ear or tongue. Thus, through faith in Jesus we have been given a garment of righteousness that has never been stained with the sin of gossip.