If you feel you have a problem (or potential problem) with gossiping, let me encourage you by saying you've taken the first step already. Gossiping is a sin issue that can affect anyone of any age or gender. Acknowledging that gossip is a problem and having a desire to change are both signs of growing spiritual maturity. I’m proud of you.
I’d also like to add that this advice is assuming you're a believer in Christ. If you don't have a clear understanding of salvation or the gospel, please see this article: How can I be saved?
The Bible has a lot to say about gossiping and lying, which are often grouped together. Psalm 34:13 commands us to “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit”—and for good reason. Gossiping can cause a lot of damage to relationships. Proverbs 17:9 describes how gossip can destroy friendships. James describes the power of our words more colorfully when he compares the tongue to a raging fire, evil, and full of deadly poison (James 3:5-6).
Have you ever heard how a married couple will begin to act like each other over the years or that a person and their pet often share a resemblance? It’s funny but also true. The more time you spend with someone, the more likely you are to develop similar habits. The same is true with Christ.
Too often, Christians become discouraged because it feels impossible to perfectly follow a list of rules. But that perspective kind of misses the point of being a Christ follower. Don’t get me wrong. Getting rid of gossip in your life is important and will be a lot of work, but the first step to becoming LIKE Christ is spending time WITH Christ.
Read your Bible and talk to God regularly. Looking up verses on gossip is a great way to start, but any quality time in God’s Word will do. You may want to pick a book of the Bible and try to read through it—one chapter every day or even one or two sections a day. (We're doing a Bible study right here at 412teens.org!) As you read, try writing down your thoughts and then talking to God about what you read. Let Christ rub off on you as you spend time with Him.
As you begin your journey to change, know that God has given you His power to do so. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Other great verses to look up about changing our life and victory over sin include Proverbs 3:5-6, Ephesians 5:1-2, and Romans 12:1-2.
Developing a life free from gossip won’t happen in one day or even a week or a month. In fact, if gossip is serious problem for you, the struggle may be a lifelong one. So let’s go through some practical ways you can avoid gossip for today, tomorrow, and in the weeks to come.
Gossip’s definition involves reporting on other people about things that are unsubstantiated or sharing information that may be damaging to another person without good reason. But just because you shouldn’t share something bad, embarrassing, or untrue doesn’t mean you can’t talk about other people at all. Here's what I mean...
I challenge you to complement someone who isn’t in the room once every day this week. Tell a friend how your sibling helped you out at home. Mention to a classmate that you think another student looks good today or did something kind. Complement your teacher’s explanation of a subject to your parents. Start implementing the practice of finding the good in people around you—instead of actively looking for the bad.
In time, hopefully your desire to say good things will grow. Think of it as "gossiping the good stuff!" Who knows? Maybe your actions will influence others to do the same.
Sarah Burkey is a graduate of Frontier School of the Bible with a BA in Youth Ministry. Along the way, she discovered her second passion: geriatric health. Sarah is a physical therapist assistant in a local nursing home. In her free time, she struggles to finish writing her novel, enjoys baking and reading, and watches a little too much anime.