Have you ever been the subject of gossip? I have and I've been blown away by the scenarios that people can come up with. Wow! If it were left to gossips to write my story it would contain enough drama for a HBO series! Don't people get enough drama from TV already? Who is a gossip? Popular definitions describe a gossip as a person that habitually shares information about others. Some definitions narrow it down to the revealing of personal information about others with malicious intent. I think we ought to regard idle words about others as gossip and subscribe to a wider definition. We do after all have to give account of our idle words (Matthew 12:36). Few would deny that unintentional harm has been caused often enough by an unguarded tongue. Gossip is just wrong whether or not malicious. Perhaps it might be wiser to simply think this - If we don't own the information, we have no business sharing it and in any case, the less we say the better. After all, the wisdom shared in Proverbs 10:19 (NASB) says: [spacer][spacer]When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, [spacer][spacer] But he who restrains his lips is wise. I am pretty sure everyone has experienced gossip coming back to them about themselves. When that happens, it is always tempting to correct the gossip, to identify the originator and to put them in their place. However, experience has taught me that the best course of action is more often than not to simply ignore it. People gossip and there will always be gossip. If we try to run it down we will never find rest or peace. We can never put a stop to gossip because gossips, by their nature, just do not exercise restraint. I have grappled with this and realised that when I began to accept God's estimation of me, I stopped worrying about what people said or thought about me. I couldn't live my life being worried about what people might think or say because it was a bondage to the fear of man. I am not saying that we should live irresponsibly and disregard correction. We should simply live our lives the best the Bible tells us how to. To love God, love people, submit appropriately and try not to cause others to stumble through our behaviour. If we work out our own walks with God, we can rest assured that what people say won't matter. We should just accept that people gossip and leave it to God justify us. We may have been wronged by gossip but we can trust God to defend our testimonies because He authors it. After all, God called us to be who we are. He has a destiny for us and He will guard us just as any parent guards their child against any harm. Gossips are quite prevalent in church circles. I think it is simply because church is a contained community. Someone new almost always gets gossiped about. Someone serving in ministry receives the same treatment. The more visible someone is the more likely there will be gossip about them. Sometimes, the better looking, rich or seemingly blessed individuals get talked about simply because there is underlying envy. Gossips have a need to find out stuff about others so that they can work out their stories - which are always a mix of half-truths and lies. They are always curious and every justification about why they need to have the information. They get a kick out of knowing something about someone else and letting others know they know something others don't. Perhaps having information about someone else makes the gossip feel important. One tell-tale sign of a gossip is a person who fishes for information. Fishing comes so naturally to a gossip that they may not even know they are doing it. One favourite tactic is to say a few things that need to be clarified or corrected - it is an attempt to bait us into revealing more. A cunningly placed lie can be effective bait for more information. Another popular gambit is to lure us into false security by telling us they already know, so we would feel comfortable to elaborate and we unwittingly feed the gossip and confirm something they are fishing for. There are also other common guises, such as caring; of wanting to pray with us; or through gifts; invitations to fellowship; or even flattery. Seasoned gossips are skilled at making an interrogation seem like a visit to the spa. It could also be a direct offer to tell us something we don't know, baiting curiosity. There is more of course to a gossip's bag of tricks. Their tactics can be very subtle but we can learn to not take their bait and sidestep their advances. When we are confronted by a gossiper fishing for information, perhaps we should simply refrain from explaining anything. Clarifying to a gossip is simply giving the gossiper material to gossip some more. Explaining to a gossip is enabling their problem - it is like giving drugs to a drug addict. Information is the gossip's drug. We shouldn't feed the monster or add fuel to the fire. Proverbs 26:20 (NIV) shares this wisdom: [spacer][spacer]Without wood a fire goes out; [spacer][spacer] without a gossip a quarrel dies down. Without new information, gossip eventually dissipates. Gossips may make something up or suggest something dramatic or sensational but eventually the truth surfaces and the liar is revealed. We will invariably come across a gossip trying to share information about others to us. Perhaps they are seeking allies; perhaps they are baiting us into enlarging their story. Maybe they are simply showing off what they know. Be as it may, we need to stop them and walk away. Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) warns us: [spacer][spacer]The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; [spacer][spacer] they go down to the inmost parts. We need to be careful about receiving these "choice morsels". They are poison that corrupts our inmost parts - our hearts and minds. What goes into our innermost parts can end up defining us, like an 'inception' (intriguing movie). What is within us is what comes out of us (Matthew 12:33-35; James 3:9-12). We need to guard what we receive into our hearts for it is our wellspring of life. Solomon shares this wisdom in Proverbs 4:23 (NASB): [spacer][spacer]Watch over your heart with all diligence, [spacer][spacer] For from it flow the springs of life. Gossip is rot we shouldn't partake of. When confronted with gossip, we may need to assert we are not comfortable with the topic of conversation, change the subject or walk away. Perhaps we should just tell them to stop saying what they are saying immediately. We don't have to explain the truth or clarify, even if we are privy to better information. We can just tell them they are wrong, they don't know what they are saying and to stop. As highlighted above, it is probably not a good idea to give the gossip any new material. Better even if we avoid a gossip altogether lest we inadvertently become an accessory after the fact by listening to gossip or unwittingly fuelling it. Proverbs 20:19 (NASB) provides clear instruction to avoid gossipers: [spacer][spacer]He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, [spacer][spacer] Therefore do not associate with a gossip We should note in this verse that no real distinction is made between the slanderer and the gossip. It is wise to avoid gossips. It safeguards our privacy because a gossiping 'friend' will invariably betray our confidence. They can't help it. Like any other stronghold or some sins, gossip is often a compulsion that may not be under the person's complete control. Gossips also tend to manipulate opinion about people around them and this is another reason why we must never subject ourselves to a gossip's agenda. Of course, we ourselves would invariably be involved in some level of gossip at one time or other. I have. Let's turn the light upon ourselves for a moment... We may really have a problem with gossiping if we cannot wait to tell others something we have just found out about someone else. On the lesser scale perhaps, we may find ourselves inadvertently revealing information about others in the normal course of a conversation. The subject has nothing to do with us, it was not our business and yet we reveal that information. It could be about the most mundane things like who went where or did what. It could also be something someone has told us about themselves or even others. This may reveal we have an idle tongue. If we make a conscious effort to, there is a good chance we will catch ourselves involved in some level of gossiping, it may be idle words or something more chronic. We are all a work in progress after all. Minding our own business should mean that we do not share any information about others because it is not ours to share. Most gossips also happen to be busybodies. Interestingly, the Bible lumps busybodies together with thieves, murderers and evildoers. 1 Peter 4:15 (NKJV): [spacer][spacer]But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other peoples matters. It would not be a stretch to put it this way - gossip is taking and giving away information that doesnt belong to us (stealing); it can be slander that kills another's character (murder); and it is evil. In short, we should guards our tongues from idle speech and when we come across gossips, we shouldn't waste our time with them. We shouldn't feed a gossiper their "drug" and we need to let God work on the gossip in His time. If we can be secure about our position and God's estimation about us, what people may think or say about us doesn't actually matter. Perhaps the only time we should correct gossip is when it hurts our ministry or hinders our life. And when we do correct a gossip we should do it properly as prescribed in the Bible about confronting a brother or a sister. If we can discipline ourselves into not seeking, contributing to or feeding gossip we can eventually get out of its bondage - gossip won't bother us. As it is often said - we cannot control what goes on around us but we can always control how we react. Let us instead cultivate our tongue for edification and receive Pauls exhortation in Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV): [spacer][spacer]Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. So if we are going to say anything about others, let it be a testimony, let it be something good which edifies the hearer. Perhaps the old adage puts it most aptly - If you have nothing good to say about someone, say nothing.
Brother Doulos , I haven't met you, so hello.:wink: Thanks for sharing about gossip. It's so rampant, so widespread that a party or a gathering without it become boring. So many of my friends gossip and gossip, gossip about people and things that I don't even know or want to know. That's the type of people to avoid completely, they're just not good for the soul.
Apparently, gossip has become a habit to many, without it, they are at a loss . Yet, as Christians, we must not encourage them especially in church when a prayer item becomes a gossip item, how sad ! The church of God has slowly become the house of gossip !!
A comprehensive and excellent blog on gossip, thanks again.
from Hwa Silverpen from sunny Singapore
Bravo! God Bless you mightily! Dave
Wow, what a great message! I've seen gossip poison a whole Christian family, and it just spreads like fire, it's so sad! It just opens the door to the enemy. Thanks for sharing:)
Mmmmm. We mustn't be a slave to our tongue. If we are all living correctly can the gossips say anything other than lies? They will one day be held accountable for it. Should we be going out of our way to prove our innocence or is it best just to leave them to it. It is tempting to put oil on the fire, but I won't. That would make me worse than them. We are better to hold our own tongues and keep focused on God. One day all truth will be known, so we just have to press on toward the goal, of serving Christ.
God be with you. Thanks for the skilfully written blog.
I chuckled at [quote]If it were left to gossips to write my story it would contain enough drama for a HBO series! [/quote]
One of my younger brothers (I am a bit older) shared with me the gossip (or high tales) of others views of my dead life. I learned stuff I didn't know and I was there. I thought it was funny and shared the truth of a few things with him but left, and still leave, it alone. Some of it is in a much better light than what the truth is. :)
At last, when I first returned home, I did leave one Church because of it. Again, no one asked me, they believed what they had heard. I didn't correct them.
Isn't it a wonder many of us just seem to skip that verse of minding our own business.
Build each other up, great ending.
Amen, grand slam, Tim
It is so good to hear from you again, and an excellent post. I know of many who have been hurt by gossip.
If only it were so easy to avoid! I know I've been in several ministry meetings where information is being exchanged and at some point, I get the uncomfortable feeling that we've crossed an invisible line and lapsed into gossip without knowing it.
Gracie and Friend organizing the Women's Ministry Team for next year. Gracie says to Friend: I wonder if Sally Mae will serve on the team this year. Friend says, I don't know if she can. She has a new job and has some crazy hours.
Are we good so far?
So then Gracie says, Oh, I'm so glad she's got a new job!! Where is she working? Friend says, She got a great job at the hospital, but sometimes she has to work till 10:00 at night.
So Gracie says, That's late! Who keeps her children?
I mean I could go on here, but you get my point. It's so easy to cross the line and not even know it. This is an important subject, and I'm glad you didn't shy away from it.
I think this is a very important subject and one we need to learn more about. Once I responded to an ad where someone was starting up a bible study in a city I had just moved to. I called the woman and she proceeded to talk about one person and then another and I joined in!!! I felt so badly afterwards and began doing some research on gossip. One thing I learned is that we are not to have anything to do with gossips. And here I was being one. Some church people gossip under the diguise of prayer for people. The ones that are easiest to spot are like my neighbor lady. I caught on to her the day I met her. She quickly went from one personal question to another and about lost her breath in doing so! I cut her off and said I was a private person who did not like to discuss personal matters. She became heated and said we needed to neighbor. I said I did not have to or want to. I felt badly but knew I needed to stay away from this person who I saw as being evil. This was later confirmed to me when another neighbor warned us against her saying she would lie to juicen up her story.
I have need to find the fine line as well.
[quote]I can add nothing to this excellent blog except AMEN. [/quote]
I agree with bethy. excellent blog, doulos! this blog may be 2 years old, but it is a relevant today as it was then, and as it was 2000 years ago! blessings and thank you, blest