Gossip: A Heart Disease

What is gossip? It is negative, unflattering words that when spread hurt the reputation of others. Sometimes gossip is made up out of thin air. Other times the bear facts related, might be true, but many significant factors are left out, thus leaving the wrong impression. Some gossip can be true but can serve no good purpose to pass it on to others. How does the Bible describe gossip? God’s Word often uses words like whispers, backbiters, and evil speaking. (Rom.1:29-32, 2 Cor.12:20, & I Pet.1:1) But how serious is this behavior in God’s sight. Briefly, let us look at some truths about gossip and its spiritual

Why is whispering so detrimental? What are its fruits? First, whispering often causes strong friendships to dissolve (Prov.16:28). Can you imagine how this would interrupt spiritual unity and progress in a congregation if the conflicting friends were brethren? We must carefully measure everything we say for the consequences can be powerfully negative. Also, backbiting can feel like the “piercing of a sword.” (Prov.12:18). Has unfair, critical talk about you gotten back to you? It hurts so deeply! This is not what Jesus has taught us to do. He commands us to treat others in the way we would like to be treated. (Matt.7:12). Loose speech not only damages the reputation of others, but it diminishes the usefulness of the gossiper. The only one who wins in this scenario is Satan.

Since God’s Word offers such serious warnings against whispering, why do people do it? There are many reasons people participate in loose talk. Let’s just look at a few of them. Some pass on negative information either because they are unaware of the truth or unconcerned about its veracity. Paul said that he was slandered when people reported he taught it was alright to do wrong as long as good was accomplished (Rom.3:8). That concept is not true. He did not teach it. And it, no doubt, hurt his influence with some. Envy is another reason people will gossip. Some at Corinth were jealous of Paul’s authority and influence over the brethren there. Therefore, they strongly criticized his right and ability to lead God’s people (2 Cor.10:10-11). Paul warned those backbiters that he would deal with them when he came back to Corinth. Finally, some just like meddling in other people’s affairs. It’s exciting to them. Peter strongly cautions disciples not to be busybodies (I Pet.4:15). He puts this sin in the same category as being a thief, an evil doer, or a murderer. God disapproves of careless speech.

How can I refrain from gossiping? The simplest answer is to love God. We show our love for Him best by “keeping His commandments” (I Jn. 5:3). And when we love Him we love each other. Jesus once said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn.13:35) That love will not just refrain from evil speech but it will uplift and
encourage others. (Eph.4:29) Are we the faithful, wise Christians that can listen to sensitive things and give sound advice while keeping quiet about the whole matter? Or are we a verbal sieve through which everything we are told flows. God has shown us what is good. Let’s not forget it!

By David Hartsell via The Charlottesville Beacon December 19, 2010

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