“Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops” [Proverbs 26:20 NLT].
Quarrels and strife are likened to fire and they can be devastating. What feeds strife is tale bearing or gossiping, and just as not putting wood on the fire causes it to go out, so stopping gossip stops quarrels and strife.
According to Proverbs 16:27-29, scoundrels, a troublemaker and violent people all disrupt relationships with their harmful actions. Gossip is also called whispering and is linked to dishonesty [Proverbs 16:28]. Proverbs 22:10 says that strife, quarreling and abuse will cease when the scoffer is driven out. A scoffer is someone who speaks about someone in a scornfully derisive or mocking way. We can see how evil gossip is when we realize that the Bible links it to scoundrels, troublemakers, the violent, the scoffer and dishonesty.
Gossip separates friends and betrays confidences. Twice in Proverbs we read that gossip is like a tasty trifle that goes down to the inmost part [18:8 & 26:22] – it is enjoyable even if it is deadly! Twice Paul includes gossipers in the list of those who are unrighteous [see Romans 1:29; 2 Corinthians 12:20]. Gossip is idle talk or rumour about the personal and private affairs of others, and Jesus made it clear that we will have to give an account for, and will be judged for every idle word that we speak [Matt.12:36]
Gossip is so evil and yet we all have a tendency to do it, and even excuse it under the cover of false spirituality – “I am sharing this for prayer!” How can we personally stop gossip? Firstly, make a decision to never talk about anyone else or their weaknesses to another person. Secondly, if someone talks to you in this way, stop them, and gently tell them that you don’t wish to hear negative comments about someone else. Thirdly, when you stop them suggest, “Let’s pray for them right now!” Ruth Graham said that it is impossible to sincerely pray for someone and have a wrong attitude towards him or her! Fourthly, seek to make words you speak about someone else only positive and encouraging. Fifthly, stop talking so much – “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut” [Proverbs 10:19 NLT]. Sixthly, if this is a weakness that you have, follow the counsel of James 5:16 – “Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst, where are you on your gossip level? Why did you answer this question in the way that you did?
Why do you think that Scripture takes such a serious view of the sin of gossip?