Gossip is a sin that is rarely confronted.
Gossip destroys families, close friendships, churches, and reputations. It ends careers and shatters lives. All that is needed to set gossip in motion is this enticing setup:
“Did you hear about…”
These words are an invitation to destruction. Don’t allow yourself to be part of an ugly communication chain. Perhaps this illustration will help make things clearer:
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.”
Or, how about this one:
“I am going to tell something that will absolutely devastate a good friend of yours. I don’t know if it is true, but I thought you should hear it anyway.”
If you heard these words you would immediately question the intent of the speaker. These words would be alarming to you. Most likely you would immediately end the conversation. Perhaps, you might even rebuke the speaker. You should be just as much on your guard whenever you hear someone say, “did you hear about…” Gossip is deceptive and destructive.
We live in the information age. We believe are entitled to as much information as we can consume. There is precious little verification attached to the flood of information we encounter each day. Verification requires time, restraint, and careful investigation. Lack of verification is what leads to gossip. Just because some says something doesn’t make it true.
So what is gossip?
One respected author and theologian defines gossip this way:
“Gossip is spreading information about someone which other persons don’t need to hear.”
This definition helps us to understand what gossip really is. 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. This applies to gossip. If words do not build up or benefit others, gossip is a real danger.
If someone says to you, did you hear about…, have the courage to say, “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. Your choice!