Gossip’s motivation is to smear another while building one’s self up and then escalates from there. It is information that can include the faults of others, private details of the lives of others, embarrassing information or shameful details of others, the inexperience of certain aspects of people’s lives that normally isn’t potentially damaging but gossipers speak in such a way to cause it to be, and normal day to day activities that are discussed just to have somebody to talk about. Gossip needs a teller - the victimizer, one or more hearers, and a victim. Gossip is always done behind the back of the victim. Sometimes the gossiper takes one or more aside in the presence of the one gossiped about and speaks in a low hushed whisper. This elite group is called to secrecy, except when needed to testify against the character of the victim. It is sectarian to the core! Sometimes the hearer is unalarmed because the gossiper is either a family member or a friend. Those who hear gossip have no clue if it is truth but oftentimes they digest every juicy word. Rarely is the victim confronted whether there is any worth or substance to the gossip. Gossip's intent is never to build the character of the hearer or the targeted victim. Instead, the intent is to destroy people. It is used as a means of manipulation by the teller to gain power over the victim and in some cases, the hearer. Its purpose is to brain wash the minds of the hearer(s) against the target of their gossip. Gossip is seductive and addictive. Its deception is to think it won't hurt to spread information because if it is truth and when did truth ever hurt anything. Or it is a biased opinion of the gossiper against another person and the gossiper wants everyone to fall in line with his or her perception.
In the KJV the word gossip in not found. Instead, there are two Hebrew words that are translated talebearer. Both of these meanings reveal the idea of what gossip used in conjunction with the teachings of the wrongful use of the tongue toward others. There are two Hebrew words for talebearer, rakyil, means slander, slanderer, tale bearer, informer (Thayer's Lexicon). These types of people tale bear for the purpose of slander! And the other Hebrew word for talebearer, nirgan, means to murmur, whisper (Thayer's Lexicon). Proverbs 20:19 teaches “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” A gossiper flatters with their lips. The word “flatterth” means to entice, deceive, persuade. What is our attitude toward this person? Do not meddle with them. Meddle means to engage in a conversation with them!
The Psalmist David said that death and life are in the power of the tongue! (Ps. 64:3) Ezekiel tells us some gossipers deceitful purpose is for the utter destruction of the lives against others. “In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood...” (Eze 22:9).
The destructive nature of the tongue is that while the gossiper opens wide the mouth to the harm of others, its backlash is the destruction of the gossiper. It is a lose - lose situation! Men’s lives are sometimes determined by a gossipers tongue! James says “the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James 3:6).
The Lord informs us that an ungodly man digs up evil and in his lips there is a burning fire! (Prov. 16:27). This is the way of the gossiper. He or she burns with desire to tell what they know. You can tell because of what they say. Next time someone calls you to the side or begins to report their findings of others without your prior seeking, beware, it may be gossip! Hell is large enough to take another gossiper and hearer!
How does God look upon the gossiper? A gossiper is the spark or initiator of strife. It divides the best of friends (Prov. 16:18) and God hates ones that sow discord among brethren (Prov. 6:17-19). He said whisperers and those who approve of whisperers are worthy of death! (Rom. 1:29, 32).
How to handle a gossiper? Once you realize it is gossip, stop the conversation. Solomon gives wise advice by saying “Where no wood is, [there] the fire goeth out: so where [there is] no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” (Prov. 26:20). That’s it! If the hearer, metaphorically referred to as wood in this passage, does not provide a comfort zone for gossip, the gossiper has no choice but to stop and seek “wood” elsewhere.
Those who spread gossip are cowards and hypocrites. Cowards because they do not face the victim, but spend their energy tale bearing in secret to others. Hypocrites because they believe do unto others as you have them do unto you until they have an agenda against another. Finally, gossipers are like serpents. “Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babble is no better.” (Eccl 10:11).
By Jack Wise
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