Who am I? I have no respect for justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cruel and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted, the more I am believed. I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I'm nobody's friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same. I topple governments and ruin marriages. I destroy careers and cause heartache and sleepless nights. I wreck churches and separate Christians. I spawn suspicion and generate grief, make innocent people cry on their pillows. Even my name hisses. I am gossip.
Fifteen hundred years ago Pope Gregory the Great classified the sins that cause humanity to stumble (the 6th century). He looked at every sin mentioned in the Bible and boiled them down to 7 categories of sin. His list of 7 sins is known as The 7 Deadly Sins. The 7 deadly sins are pride, anger, indifference, envy, greed, lust, and gluttony. The 7 deadly sins include nearly every kind of human sin imaginable. But there is a deadly sin that failed to be included in the list of the 7 deadly sins. The 8th deadly sin is gossip.
All the sins of the tongue are deadly. Profanity, insults, lying negativism, complaints, and criticism are all harmful. Gossip is a particularly deadly sin. Gossip has destroyed more people, tarnished more reputations, broken more friendships, and split more churches than any sin I'm aware of. Gossip is quickly told, quickly heard, and quickly spread. Worst of all, gossip is quickly believed. People will confess to theft, adultery, even murder. But no one confesses to gossip.
The book of Proverbs warns us of the deadly allure of gossip as well as its deadly effects over and over again. Proverbs 18:8
says, "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts." Whether we admit it or not, we have a fascination with gossip. That's why talk shows and grocery store tabloids are so popular. Proverbs says gossip is like a tasty morsel that we like to savor. Gossip is like a hot fudge sundae made with Blue Bell ice-cream. Gossip is like peach cobbler with real whipped cream. Gossip is like steak and lobster. Gossip is like an all you can eat buffet with a desert bar. We can't get enough of it.
Not only does Proverbs warn us that we have a perverse attraction with gossip. Proverbs also warns us of the corrupting effect of gossip. When we listen to gossip, it goes to our "inmost parts." Gossip sinks its teeth into our hearts, souls, and minds and corrupts us like a fast spreading cancer.
We know what gossip is when we hear gossip or when we speak gossip. But we don't often take time to define words like gossip.
We want to see what God's Word says about gossip. Let's take a moment to consider the meaning of gossip
and its sister words as the Bible uses them. It helps us to know the meaning of the words as they are used by Jesus and His apostles in the Greek New Testament. Simply put, "gossip" is talking about people behind their backs.