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Gossip


By Rachel Lower

"Simple people talk about other people.
Average people talk about things.
Wise people talk about ideas."

Jeremiah 9:4 Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. (KJV)

What is gossip?

"Often malicious talk; a person who spreads sensational or intimate facts." In my experiences I have been to churches where, with mostly the ladies, gossip runs rampant. "Did you hear about…?" "Is it true that.. ?" "This is a secret, but I need to tell someone, because it is so juicy…." Gossip is spreading rumors and secrets. I have had the plague of gossip effect me in the past. When I was in school a certain girl managed to spread at least one rumor around about me each year. It seemed, especially then, that gossip was all there was to talk about.

1. Hebrew word rakil
Lev. 19:16 - "you shall not go about as a slanderer"
Prov. 11:13 - "he who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets"
Prov. 20:19 - "he who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets"
Jere. 6:28 - "rebellious, going about as a talebearer"
Jere. 9:4 - "goes about as a slanderer"
2. Greek word psithurismos - "to whisper" - psst
Rom. 1:29 - filled with unrighteousness, full of deceit, gossips, slanderers"
II Cor. 12:20 - "slanderers, gossip.."
3. Greek word phluarus - "to babble"
I Tim. 5:13 - "gossips and busybodies"
D. Greek word diabolos - "to throw through, to slander"
I Tim. 3:11 - "malicious gossips"
II Tim. 3:3 - "malicious gossips"
Titus 2:3 - "malicious gossips"

Effects of Gossip

Proverbs 11:9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. (KJV)

Jeremiah 6:28 They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. (KJV)

Gossip destroys reputations, friendships, etc.

Commandments Against It

Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the LORD. (KJV)

That verse is a direct commandment not to spread gossip! Other commandments apply as well, for instance: Luke 3:14 "…Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages." Most gossip tends to be lies. If you spread them you yourself are accusing falsely. Proverbs 24:28 Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive not with thy lips. (KJV) Psalm 50:20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. (KJV)

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Recently I have heard some things about someone I hardly know. Though I have felt a bit unwary of that person in the first place, I cannot know for sure if the allegations I have heard are so. In my heart I trust the person saying the things and have no reason not to believe, but unless the person being accused is proven to have done what he is claimed to have done, or crosses me – I have to restrain from making judgement.

My husband has heard the same things. Should we talk about it to each other and with the accuser? As long as we don't spread it further? 1 Timothy 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. (KJV) Ezekiel 22:9 In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness. (KJV) We would not be going around telling others what we heard. If this were just something that someone had heard someone else saying than we should just ignore it. But, this came from the source. The one whom told us should and perhaps has gone: "… And tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." And then if he does or didn't hear him: "… Take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." Then: "... If he shall neglect to hear them, tell {it} unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." The accused should repent and admit to this man what he had done, or if it would have to go further he would make a public repentance. Unfortunately I do not know if he has done any of this. The topic is out of my hands. Conclusively, we should stop speaking of it. Though, if anything, we could ask if these steps have been taken. Otherwise, any more 'speculation' is basically gossiping between one another. It is not our business.

Proverbs 17:14, "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with."

Proverbs 26:17, 20, 21, "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears . . . . Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth [is silent]. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife."

Proverbs 25:9, "Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another."

Basically it is not our problem, and we are not needed to handle it, therefore we should leave it be.

Ephesians 4: 31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Secrets

Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (KJV)

Proverbs 20:19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips. (KJV)

Let your yes's be yes's and your no's be no's. That is a good verse. We have all seen or been in situations where someone wants us to promise not to tell. "Swear you won't tell!" Say yes or no. Don't say either if you don't know. "Can you keep a secret?" Well, what if the secret is something that needs to be told, like "My father is abusing me"? Perhaps it is a good practice to tell the person that you will keep the secret, unless someone is in danger. When someone trusts you to keep a secret that is personal, you should keep it. Many people, at least in their youth, have at least once told a secret they shouldn't have told. Like, "You know who has a crush on you know who". That is very wrong. If you cannot keep personal secrets like that, you should tell people so and not let anyone tell you any secrets.

Right now I have a secret that I so wish to tell. But, I will have to wait. Eventually the secret will come out and then I can talk about it! But for now, I must wait patiently and not say a word. It is often tempting though. Especially being that this secret is good news.

Slander and Hearsay

Slander: the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations, which defame and damage another's reputation. Hearsay: what one hears but does not know to be true, gossip.

James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

1 Peter 2:1 So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.

Romans 1:29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

If you spread the slander you have slandered. In the situation we were just covering, my husband and I would have been committing hearsay if we had told anyone. If the charges are false it would not only be hearsay, but slander.

What about those gossip magazines?

Can you listen and read gossip without really gossiping? Is the one whom hears the gossip voluntarily is just as guilty of the one talking? It takes two to tango. Not only are we setting a bad example, we are going against scripture. Not only is being the talebearer wrong, but encouraging them and meddling with them is also wrong. We should either avoid them, confront them, or change the subject.

Proverbs 20:19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips. (KJV)

Tame your Tongue

Gossiping for some is a long time habit. We have to learn to control our tongues. We hear secrets and stories that would be fun to tell, that are exciting, but we need to keep quiet.

Proverbs 17:27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. (KJV)

Proverbs 21:23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. (KJV)

Ecclesiastes 3:7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; (KJV)

© Rachel, 1999-present
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