What is Gossip Anyway?

Rule 1: Avoiding gossip

Definition of gossip:

  • Dictionary – a rumor, chatty talk
  • Bible – one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.

A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it.

Gossip is distinguished from “sharing” information in two ways:

  1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of bearers of knowledge.
  2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

Proverbs 20:19

In Romans 1 you find gossip in a list of sins and wickedness. The chapter ends saying that even when we know it’s wrong we do it anyway and worse yet we encourage other to do it too.

Rule 1a: No prayer gossiping

You can possibly avoid this by:

  • First asking the person if it is ok to share their prayer request.
  • Don’t share their name. God knows who it is.

Check point – Ask yourself why you want to share this. Would you share it, if they were in the room.

Rule 2: Choose positive words

Do your words encourage others?

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Ephesians 4:29

What comes out of your mouth gives a picture of what is truly in your heart. If you are bitter, angry, or unforgiving your words will probably not be full of love. If you allow your heart to be filled with mercy, grace, and love your words will be filled with the same.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Luke 6:45

Check point – What is in your heart?

Rule 3: Tame your tongue

God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we could listen more and talk less. When we open our mouths we can either bless or curse. It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

Proverbs 21:23

Carrie Stimpson story — when we girls “share” with our girlfriends, we might have moved on the next day and forgiven the person, but the girlfriend we talked to still remembers the negative talk about the other person.

Check point — WAIT: Why Am I Talking?

My latest nugget. When I feel like I am gabbing, rambling, talking out of turn, talking over someone, filling the silence… WAIT!

Rule 4: Silence is good

Don’t just talk to fill the air with conversation.

Photo credit: by Stevebidmead