I can think of fewer things that destroy the Body of Christ, the church, than gossip. Often it is prayer requests that are passed on to others but it turns into gossip. Perhaps that is why many who request prayer at our church say them as an “unspoken need.” I can’t blame them. God knows their need and that is all that matters. How does gossip hurt? The Bible is clear on this.
“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends” (Prov 16:28).
What will break up a friendship more quickly than gossip? I can’t think of anything that will drive a wedge between Christian brothers or sisters than spreading gossip and as the Proverbs say, it spreads strife.
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” (Prov 11:13).
This Proverb is spot on. When we reveal secrets about others like prayer requests that are given to us in trust and confidence, we are in effect slandering that person. The “trustworthy” person will keep it zipped.
“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (1Tim 5:13).
Not only do some spread gossip, they go “from house to house.” This may be by means of phone calls, emails, or even Bible studies. Paul was clear that they are “saying what they should not.”
Here is a great way to stop gossip in its tracks. I had a person come to me with a concern about another believer. They said something that sounded like it was a private matter and so I said, “Why don’t we go to that person right now and ask them about it.” The person was not willing to do that and incidentally, they never told me anything about anyone ever again. At other times I have heard about rumors of someone doing something that seemed inappropriate for a believer in Christ to be doing. I asked, “And who told you this?” Again, the person (a different person this time) was unwilling to say just who said this and so that stopped that, as far as I was concerned anyway. When the person spreading a rumor or gossiping about someone else is confronted in love, it can stop the gossip in its tracks. When I offer to have the person come with me to talk with the person being spoken about, this offer has always been refused. The best way to stop gossip then is to confront the gossiper, ask if they are willing to take this issue up with the person, or to ask who the source was. Truly the one who “does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
Gossip hurts the Body of Christ. It divides, it slanders, it produces strife, it separates friends, and it is sin. May it never be so in the church of Christ. If we have anything to say about someone else, let it be uplifting, edifying, and encouraging and “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” (Eph 4:29).