A gateway to gossip

Posted on · Posted in Communication

“Did you hear about…”

These words are a gateway to gossip. These words can entice you to be part of an ugly communication chain.

Someone comes to you and instead of saying “did you hear about…” he says:
“Let me tell you about the marriage I am helping to destroy.”  Suddenly, when stated this way, this information is not so attractive!

If something you hear cannot be verified it is dangerous. There is precious little verification attached to the flood of information we encounter each day. Verification is not popular because it requires time, restraint, and careful investigation. Lack of verification leads to gossip.

What is gossip?

Gossip is spreading information which you or others don’t need to hear. If the words your hear or say do not build up or benefit others, gossip is a real danger.

While gossip is often false information,  it can also be information that is true. True information that is incomplete can be even more destructive than false information. The Proverbs and James 3 provide many warnings about the damage gossip does. The best way to stop gossip is not to hear it or speak it.

Ephesians 4:29 gives specific instruction about what should come out of your mouth and the mouths of others.

“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.”

If what you say or hear is not designed to build up others, it should be classified as unwholesome speech.

If someone says to you, “did you hear about…”, have the courage to ask, “is this information going to help me or benefit the person you are telling me about?”

If you are faithful to respond this way you can be a force for truth. You will be a  blessing to your children because your example will help them recognize and avoid the ugly, destructive sin of gossip. This practice might make you unpopular with some, but it will bring honor to your God.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.