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.
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.
The New Testament Greek word for “gossip” (psithuristes,
The Bible links gossip and slander together as sister sins (
I. The Origin of Gossip
Gossip is like a tasty morsel that we like to hear. The question is: Where does gossip originate? In a number of Scripture passages, the Lord informs us about the origins of gossip so that we will avoid it.
Gossip is fueled by hell’s flames
Gossip is one of Satan’s fiery arrows that he shoots at us and entices us to shoot at others. The Lord doesn’t mince words in
The flames of hell ignite gossip. Satan is behind all gossip, either directly or indirectly. When we listen to gossip, we give the devil a foothold in our lives. When we speak gossip, we’re speaking as Satan wants us to speak. As the old saying goes, “A gossiper is the devil’s postman.”
Gossip originates from the evil in our hearts
Gossip can be the result of hatred
Gossip is a product of idleness
Sometime ago the LA Times carried a horrific story about a college student who visited a prostitute. As his lips approached hers, she moved a razor, hidden in her mouth, between her front teeth. With two quick swipes, she cut off his lips. Gossip is a razor blade in our mouths.
II. The Trouble with Gossip
Gossip is always trouble. Gossip obscures the truth. Gossip drives us from God. Gossip ruins reputations. Gossip destroys relationships. Gossip divides churches. The trouble with gossip is …
Gossip is incredibly destructive
Gossip is a wild fire gone out of control. We try to put it out. We try to control it. But the gossiper keeps pouring gas on the fire. Like a forest fire that is beyond control, gossip takes on a life of its own. The story grows and changes the more the gossip is spread. The story even grows within the mind of the gossiper.
Not only is gossip a wild fire. Gossip is “full of deadly poison.” I got food poisoning last year. The poison of bad barbeque got into my stomach. My stomach was so sick that I’d make you sick to describe it. I had 24 hours of misery and was washed out for days. Gossip is a deadly poison. It’ll make you so miserable that you will wish that you were dead.
Gossip is a characteristic of unbelievers
Gossip spreads falsehood
A couple of years ago, someone ran a red light and totaled my car. I replaced my Toyota MR2 with a Toyota Camry. When I drove the new car to get a haircut, the receptionist misread the emblem on the car. She thought I had bought a Lexus. She said, “I love your new Lexus.” I said, “What Lexus? That’s only a Toyota. I’ve never even been in a Lexus.” That’s how gossip works. Half-truths and misunderstandings are turned into unbelievable stories, like your pastor buying a new Lexus.
Gossip separates friends
People leave churches when they believe gossip. People leave churches when they have been wounded by gossip. Churches have split over gossip started by a single person.
A grandmother was saying bedtime prayers with her two grandchildren. She said, “Tonight, we’re going to talk about sin. Do you know what sin means?” Seven-year-old Keith said, “It’s when you do something bad.” Four-year-old Aaron’s eyes widened, “I know a big sin Keith did today.” That’s how gossip works. We see the speck in our brother’s eye but ignore the log in our own.
III. The Antidote for Gossip
We know that gossip originates with Satan. We know that gossip is a product of our sinful nature. We know how incredibly destructive gossip is. Now we need to consider God’s antidote for gossip.
Overlook an offense
Churches are a family. Sometimes family members offend family members. Don’t be surprised when it happens. We’re too quick to get offended. We’re too quick to tell others about how another church member offended us. It’s wrong! God’s says to overlook the offense. If you must talk about the offense, talk to the person who offended you, and that person alone.
Don’t listen to gossipers
If someone gossips about you, Jesus tells us how to confront them in
First, speak to the person one-on-one. If that doesn’t work, bring a couple of spiritually mature Christian friends with you to confront them. We must confront people with the right facts and the right spirit.
Watch your tongue carefully
A man won the million-dollar lottery. He flew with his wife to New York City for a weekend get away. They had such an argument over how to spend the money that she threatened to divorce him. In a fit of anger, he went to the top of the Empire State Building. She ran up after him, thinking he might do something crazy. Once she got to the top she said, “Honey, I love you. We can work it out.” But by the time she reached him, he had already torn the check into pieces and thrown the pieces to the ground. They got to the ground as quick as possible to gather up the pieces of the check. But it was too late. The wind had gotten a hold of the pieces. They couldn’t piece the check back together again, no matter how hard they tried. That’s how it is with gossip. Once gossip gets out, it gets out of control. Once it gets into the wind of people’s ears, there’s no way to put things back together again.
Jesus warns us about sins of the tongue in