Gossip….we’ve all been a part of it or a victim of it. Let’s chat today about what it is, how God sees it and how we can hopefully stop this in our lives.
The definition of gossip is “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”
We were coming home from a trip recently and a couple of women, co-workers, sat across from us at the gate. For the next hour they gossiped about people at their office, their husbands and their friends. I told my husband I hoped they were not sitting close to us on this flight….yea….right in front of us….woo hoo.
As this conversation continued on the plane it was honestly unbelievable that anyone could verbally destroy that many people. She just went from person to person telling how they did stupid things, had wrong opinions and were incompetent in some way. She would bash someone and then say, “oh I love them…but…”.….
Gossip isn’t only talking bad about someone but it’s telling things they have done in a way that makes them look bad and you look good. It’s giving only your side of an event to someone not involved in what happened, without the person who was involved being able to give their side.
We all have a different perspective of things that happen, we hear things through our own filters of pain. We don’t have to agree with another’s opinion but we need to attempt to understand their perspective.
When we fail to appreciate another person’s view we lift ourselves up and put that other person down. We pride ourselves as being “right” and judge another as “wrong”…OUCH! When in reality it’s usually a matter of a different point of view not a right or wrong way of doing or saying something.
Why do people gossip about others:
1. To feel better about themselves. We can feel so bad about ourselves from various hurts that we need to deflect attention away from us. It’s always an attempt to raise our value and lower another’s.
2. To gain power. It somehow can make us feel better or more in control if we diminish the character of another. It makes us look better by telling our side and playing the victim to our friends. We need them to acknowledge we were right in our response, so we can justify our actions.
3. To get revenge. When we fail to understand the perspective of someone who we feel hurt us and can’t control the situation, we have a need to get back at him or her somehow, and gossiping to someone else relieves that need.
With all that being said, how does God view gossip? What does His word say about this?
Proverbs 16:28 (NLT)A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
Proverbs 20:19 (NLT) A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much.
Ephesians 4:29-31 (NLT) 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Sooooo…that’s pretty plain. God warns us to not plant seeds of strife through gossip, don’t hang around people who gossip, don’t let gossip come out of your mouth.
Why? Because of the devastation it can cause. If you are in strife with someone and do not resolve it, it can destroy you. If you spread that to others you are basically asking them to take up an offense for you. It is not their battle to fight. It is yours.
Matthew 18:15 Jesus tells us if we have a grievance or problem between us and another person, WE are required to go to that person and make it right, the NIV states, “just between the two of you”.
So how do we stop doing this ourselves and help people we care about stop this cycle?
1. Pray…if you know you have an issue with gossip, ask the Holy Spirit to help you break this habit. He is the Helper. Ask Him to convict you when you are about to repeat something you shouldn’t. He will be faithful to help, and we should be diligent to obey His gentle nudge to shut up!!
2. Tell someone…ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable. You will have to be brutally honest with this friend about your struggles with this sin and be willing to let them speak into your life.
3. Read Scripture…Look up every passage in the Bible that talks about strife, slander, gossip and the power of your words. Memorize some of them. Place a sticky note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to let Jesus be the lord of your mouth!
4. When you fail…get back up. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you won’t overcome this habit overnight. So when you mess up, repent and keep going!
If you have a friend who is having an issue with gossip, especially if you are aware of their current situation, what do you do? If you care about them it is your responsibility to address it with them.
Galatians 6:1 states, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.”
If you care about them you need to stop that conversation, address it’s implications and redirect them. Confrontation is never easy but if we as friends and fellow believers let anyone continue in that behavior we are then the ones in trouble. Their strife will infect us and then we are the ones left to deal with our own tainted heart.
We must realize the importance of avoiding this trap. The enemy wants nothing more than our very destruction, and letting this continue in our lives is the best way to insure he succeeds. Let me hear in the comments section how you have overcome this tendency or are helping someone else with it…lets continue the conversation…