Read: Proverbs 26:20-28
Consider: What is your reaction when someone says to you: ‘I really shouldn’t tell you this, but …’? Do your ears prick up hoping that what they are about to divulge is really tasty? I’m sure that we’ve all encountered situations like this. There are two aspects to this: one is the person who is sharing what they shouldn’t, and second there is person who willingly listens and allows the gossip to enter their mind. The writer of Proverbs describes gossip as ‘choice morsels’; what we might call ‘tasty titbits’. He also tells us that gossip ‘goes down to the inmost parts’; in other words it gets inside you, affecting your mind and attitudes.
I like how the KJV translates the word gossip as ‘whisperer’. You can imagine the scene where a person is talking about someone or something almost secretly and furtively. You can see everyone hanging on every word of the whisperer, hoping to hear something they might pass on to others.
While gossip might seem harmless at a superficial level, it is roundly condemned throughout the Bible. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome he mentions gossip as a characteristic of the ungodly and unregenerate. Describing those who reject God he says: Furthermore, just as they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy (Romans 1:28-31).
Paul also mentions gossip in his second letter to the church at Corinth, but this time it is directed specifically to those who are in the chuurch. In 2 Corinthians 12:20 he speaks to the Christians in this way: For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. We know from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that there were major faults in the church as they tolerated significant sin in their membership. Paul’s use of the negative characteristics in 2 Corinthians 12 is to remind the believers in Corinth that there should be no place for these in their new life in Christ. This links to what James has to say in his letter about bridling the tongue. James says of the tongue being used to bless and to curse: My brothers and sisters, this should not be (James 3:10). This is equally true of gossip in the church!
If you are prone to gossiping, pray that God will give you the strength to resist the temptation to gossip. If you don’t gossip, but enjoy listening to others gossiping, pray for the strength to walk away and to ignore what you hear.
Pray: Father, help us to become what you want us to be. May we be discerning when in the company of those who are prone to gossip. Help us to walk away and not enter into the gossip. Also may we disregard what we hear as gossip and never pass it on to others. Amen