Good Communication: What The Bible Says About Gossip
The Bible provides guidance for our daily lives in countless ways. One of the greatest treasures in the Bible is the guide to good communication with other people. The Bible is full of great advice on personal relationships with other people. One sin that tears people apart is gossip and the Bible warns against it. Much of the wisdom in the Bible comes out of the book of Proverbs and that is where many of the verses regarding gossip can be found.
What Gossip Is:
Gossiping is a sin that we are prone to as curious humans. Some of us might not even recognize what we are doing as gossiping, and we may pass it off as “just casual conversation” or something of that sort. Basically, gossiping is saying something to one person about someone else that you would not tell the person you are talking about. It could be as simple as making a minor derogatory comment about someone or as major as telling someone something that a friend told you in confidence. The first part of Psalm 52:2 says, “Your tongue plots destruction,” and that is only one place where the tongue is likened to a weapon. There are many sayings that call the tongue a weapon or a poison. The phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is horribly untrue. At some point, we have all been called an unpleasant name, and though we may act as though it did not hurt, deep down it did.
What Wisdom Teaches About Gossip:
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and his proverbs guide us on how to live a productive life. The book of Proverbs is rich with wisdom and advice about life and I would like to share some of the great verses it offers on this topic:
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13. We are all guilty of this, I am sure. At some point, everyone has betrayed another person in some way. The point is not to pity yourself for the mistakes of your past, but rather to prevent them in the future. I am sure we all strive to be spoken of as trustworthy and not as a gossip.
“As a north wind brings rain, so a sly tongue brings angry looks.” Proverbs 25:23. If we make a name for ourselves as a gossip, people will begin to dislike us and choose not to associate with us.
“A gossip betrays a confidence, so avoid a man who talks too much.” Proverbs 20:19. Once again we see the phrase “a gossip betrays a confidence” which links gossip with betrayal. This verse warns us not to associate or trust people who don’t use discretion with their words. As much as we want to stay away from people who could betray us this way, we also want to avoid becoming this ourselves. The maxim “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all” is applicable much of the time.
“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28. I love this verse because it is so simple and true. In my own experience, I can relate to this verse. I had a friend who was intent on separating me not only from my closest friend but also from my sister. She would gossip about each of them to me, and about me to each of them, but finally I sat down with my best friend and sister and we realized what was going on. It was painful to realize what she was trying to do to us, but it happens all the time to people. Don’t let a gossip ruin a friendship, and don’t become the gossip ruining other friendships.
“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” Proverbs 26:20. Many fights are begun on the basis of rumor or hearsay caused by some third party out to cause trouble. My personal method of dealing with someone who says nasty or questionable things about someone I love is to first of all ask them not to speak to me about it anymore, and then to go to my friend and get them to tell me their side of the story. I dislike nothing more than having someone telling me unkind things about someone I love to either hurt me or ruin our relationship. Also, it’s a safe bet that if they are doing it to them they are likely doing it about me as well.
Friendship And Love:
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10. If we gossip about people, we are not honoring them above ourselves. If you have a problem or an issue with someone, then bring it up to them personally. Don’t let it get back to them through a chain of other people – that shows disrespect.
Jesus commanded us to love one another in John 13:34 saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” There are many ways to show love, but gossip is not one of them. If we love someone, and Jesus commands us to love everyone that they may be shown the love of God, then we will hold our tongues.
Commanded Not To Gossip:
“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” Psalm 34:13. Don’t use your tongue as a weapon against others. Just as the mouth is powerful in tearing someone down, it’s equally powerful in building someone up! If we all replaced every nasty thought of someone else with a kind comment instead, we’d probably all sleep a lot better at night.
It’s obvious that gossiping is a destructive habit and that God teaches us to refrain from it. While we are all bound to slip at times, we can praise God for the forgiveness He offers us and the opportunity to do better next time. My advice is to keep in mind that you should do to others as you would have them do to you. Gossiping is a habit like any other, but, “The things impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27. If we seek His help sincerely, He will help us overcome our bad habits.
All verses are from the New International Version unless stated otherwise.