A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Slandering Others by Gossip
There are not many things that are more destructive to Christians or to the church than gossip. This is one of the seven things that God hates, which are sometimes called the Seven Deadly Sins (Prov. 6:16-19). God detests all liars, and the Bible declares that all liars (those who’ve never been saved) will have their part in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8). Gossip is nothing less than slandering a person’s name, and in many cases, a slanderer can be held accountable in a court of law. Gossiping is like character assassination except the person they are assassinating isn’t there. How cowardly to talk about someone behind their back. Would we say the same thing about them if they were present? Not likely. A good rule is to never say something about someone who isn’t there that you wouldn’t say to their face.
Gossip and Other Wicked Sins
Paul mentions in the same sentence some of the wickedest sins of humanity–anger, hostility, slander, quarreling, deceit, disorder, jealousy–as he does gossip (2 Cor. 12:20). Even worse, he mentions gossip alongside murder, strife, envy, maliciousness, malice, covetousness, evil, and all kinds of unrighteousness, in case he missed some things (Rom. 1:29) and once again in the same sentence. It’s important to know that the inspired Word of God lists gossip among some of the most wicked, heinous sins in all humanity. Gossip has split churches, divided families, sunk ships, and separated close friends (Prov. 16:28), taking them from being best friends to the worst of enemies. I know this sounds harsh, but we had to disfellowship someone from our church because she was gossiping about others, which turned out to be lies. She was slandering the church by bearing false witness, and in one Sunday school class, she actually said that we were teaching that what Hitler did was good, misrepresenting what the teacher actually said by taking it out of context or, better yet, ripping it out of context and having him say something that he actually never said. She even divided the church board by interrupting the meetings, talking during church services about other people, and constantly agitating and disputing the Sunday school teacher’s lessons.
Measuring Our Words
Every one of us will be called into account for every idle or careless word we speak at Christ’s return (Matt. 12:36). For those who have repented and trusted in Christ, we will be spared God’s judgment, but we might be rebuked for our careless and thoughtless use of words, including all the gossip that we’ve repeated or spoken. To repeat gossip makes us just as guilty as the one who spreads it. We are accessories to the crime. Paul wrote that even believers will have to give an account to God (Rom. 14:12), even though our sins have been paid for at the cross. One way to stop gossip is to say, “Hey, let’s you and I go right now and talk to that person about their problem, and you tell them what you told me so we can help them” or “I’ll go to them and tell them what you told me so that they’ll know that people know about this problem.” You know what? That makes the gossip stop right in its tracks; at least it keeps them from coming back to me again!
A Closing Prayer
God my Father, please help me to guard my tongue, to speak to others only in a way that builds them up and doesn’t tear them down, and to not talk about them behind their back because we know You hate gossip and will not leave those guiltless who slander other people’s names. In Jesus’ precious name I pray.
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