In an age where people put so much energy into undermining each other, it can, at times take sheer determination to refrain from gossip and communicate with integrity.
Participating in gossip puts your character in question. The old cliche’ is spot on, “misery loves company.” Why else would people expel so much energy shining a not so favorable light upon others? Aside from being miserable, they lack honesty. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Happy people just don’t go around tearing others down.
What Does God Say?
The Bible has a lot to say about gossip and God did not mince words when He said He hates it. Proverbs 6:16-19 says this, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Don’t bother trying to justify gossip with, “Well, it’s work-related, so I thought you should know.” Worse yet, the spiritual gossiper: “I’m only telling you so you can pray for him/her.” Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Paul didn’t say it was okay if it’s work related or so long as you’re seeking prayer on someone’s behalf. Again, no mincing of words here either. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth.”
So what do you do when it’s not you doing the talking and someone attempts to share information with you about someone else? Walk away. Kindly say to them that you are not interested in listening to gossip about others and walk away. Proverbs 20:19 – “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.”
The Spiritual Gossip
If you do find yourself in conversation with a “spiritual gossiper,” it’s okay to receive generic information; i.e. the persons first name and a very general piece of information such, “he/she is going through a divorce; or experiencing financial struggles.” But you don’t need to know that that person spent all their money on alcohol and is now losing their home. If the person themselves wants to share that with you, fine. Otherwise, it’s none of your business. It will only taint the way you see them and that is not your role. It’s easy to pray for the ones we love, but it’s not as easy for those of whom you now have a distorted view.
This life is difficult as it is. Don’t further complicate it by participating in gossip. When you eliminate this unnecessary evil, you’ll find you have more peace, more time, and many more friends. Think before you speak and when you do speak, speak with integrity, and intention.