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What does the Bible say about gossip?

Gossip is never good. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a gossip as “a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others.” Oftentimes, gossip is a distorted version of the truth, half-truths, or complete lies. Gossip can separate close friends, cause fights within families, and wreak havoc throughout a community. Christ-followers should not engage with gossip or be the originator of gossip because it can be so harmful to individuals, relationships, and our own integrity.

Just peek at the tabloid headlines at the grocery store to see that the media often idolizes and worships gossip as interesting, cool entertainment. But it really isn't. Gossip is disgraceful to God and so harmful to others. The Bible tells us gossip creeps into our hearts and corrupts us from the inside out (Proverbs 18:7-8).

Is gossip a sin?

Yes, gossip is sin. Paul lists gossip amidst the other sins that God forbids in Romans 1:29-32. Paul isn’t messing around. Gossip is a MAJOR problem, and God does not want us to participate in it. Saying “a little gossip never hurt anyone” is blatantly untrue. Gossip is always hurtful and harmful to someone.

During Paul’s day, the biggest gossipers were found in circles of widows (1 Timothy 5:12). It's a really sad fact, but they do have a lot more time on their hands, they're lonely, and thus, they are more prone to gossiping to make conversations more "interesting." These widows would go around to visit different people and gather information, then whisper about the latest juicy gossip behind people's backs, spreading it around like gangrene. Gross.

Even though Paul mentioned women, the Bible doesn't exclude men from being prone to gossip at all. Proverbs 16:28 says, "A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. Proverbs 20:19 warns of those who talk too much: "Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler." Instead of betraying a confidence, a Christian should have integrity, be trustworthy, know when to be silent, and be a friend who can keep another's confidence (Proverbs 11:12-13).

What's the difference between sharing and gossiping?

Sometimes we want or need to share information or concerns with others, but we want to avoid gossiping. How do we tell the difference between these two ways of talking about someone else? There are three things that make gossip distinct from simply sharing information out of concern for a person:

  1. Intent. The goal of a gossiper is to build themselves up by making others look bad. They want to look smart and in-the-know to everyone around them.
  2. The kind of information shared. Gossipers focus on talking about the faults and failings of others or reveal embarrassing or shameful details from someone else's life or circumstances.
  3. Confidentiality. A gossip will share personal information without the concerned person's consent, approval, or knowledge. Even if they don't mean to do any harm, it's still gossip because they have no right to share someone else's personal information without permission.

Those who gossip seek to bring other people down and elevate themselves as founts of knowledge and secrets. They feel that divulging others' private information will make themselves look better. They take controversial or confidential details they have learned and share it around in hopes of getting attention and reactions. Often, the real truth gets twisted or even lost and transforms into destructive rumors and lies.

Why is gossip so bad?

Gossip does no good for anyone! Gossip can so easily break up friendships. Gossip can damage the work that has been put into establishing trust in relationships. Part of being a good friend is having the integrity to keep a friend's confidences to yourself by not spreading it around or perpetuating someone else's rumors.

As believers, we should never want to hurt another person or spread an untruth about them. If feel you have a problem with gossip, be honest with yourself and do not blame someone else or a situation. Acknowledge the sin to God, ask for His forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and apologize to anyone you may have hurt (James 5:6). Then make a commitment to avoid gossip in the future.

Let’s leave the gossip in the dust. Participating in gossip by listening to it or spreading it ourselves will lead to hurt and destruction. With God’s help, we can guard our tongues and make sure we only say things that are helpful to building others up—not tearing them down (Proverbs 21:23; Ephesians 4:29). By refusing to participate in gossip, you will honor God and you will feel pretty great too!

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TL;DR

Gossiping is never good. The Bible tells us not to gossip as it will cause problems, drama, and harm relationships (Proverbs 16:28). Anybody can be guilty of indulging in gossip, but as believers, we must stay away from it. Gossip is a sin, and it hurts God when we gossip (Romans 1:29-32). Gossip is often distorted truth, half-truths, or outright lies, and we should not listen to it. Even if gossip is true, it's not our place to listen it. Instead of gossiping, we need to be busy building up others in the Lord and helping them shine (Ephesians 4:29).

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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