As soon as I saw her text message, I instantly felt the twinge of guilt. This friend was following up with me about a conversation the two of us had shared earlier that day.
We had been innocently chatting about a recent challenge in her life regarding a certain relationship. Without even realizing it, our conversation headed south and begin to borderline on gossip. The details we hashed out about that particular person went too far and were not necessary.
So in this text message, my friend asked me to forgive her for gossiping about that particular friend. I knew I was guilty as well, so I asked her to forgive me too.
As much as I would like to think I am “spiritually mature” to never gossip…I’m not. I still give in to this sin from time to time. In fact, the incident from above happened not too long ago.
If you’re like me (a sinner saved by grace striving to honor God), then I know you face the temptation to gossip on a regular basis too.
Due to our sin nature, gossiping comes naturally to all of us. We do it without even thinking.
Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
Gossip always looks yummy. But its effects are far from delicious.
We are drawn to juicy gossip because of our prideful hearts. We love talking about other people’s faults, shortcomings, lifestyle, choices, and actions. Why? Because by talking about “other people” we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re better.
We puff ourselves up by putting the other person down.
This is detestable in the sight of our holy and perfect God (Proverbs 6:16-19). Words are powerful. They have to ability to pour “life” into someone or to pour “death.” Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”
If you’re not exactly sure what gossip looks like in everyday life, see how you measure up against the following 4 signs (I’ve been guilty of all 4!).
4 Easy-to-Miss Signs that You Struggle with Gossip
1. You love juicy news about others.
“Guess what I heard about so-and-so?!” “Did you hear what she did?!” “You’re not going to believe what about I’m about to tell you about this person!”
Do you love juicy news about other people? Do you have itching ears to hear the latest “scoops” on celebrities, schoolmates, and friends? If so, this is a slippery slope for gossip. Juicy news is normally negative news, and this doesn’t build anybody up.
2. You talk about people behind their back.
You would never tell them to their face, but you have no problem talking about them behind their back. If that person ever found out about what you said though, you would be extremely embarrassed.
Talking negatively about people behind their back is a sure pathway to gossip. If you wouldn’t say it to them, then you probably don’t need to discuss it about them.
3. You always “discuss” the latest happenings on social media.
You follow certain people on social just to stay up to date on the latest gossip. You want to know what they’re doing so you can “discuss” it with your other friends. You chat through your social apps about so-and-so and regularly point out the flaws of others.
Social media can quickly become a war zone of evil speech and sinful conversations if you’re not careful. If you find yourself regularly giving in to these temptations, it might be better to unfollow certain people or to get off social media altogether.
4. You’re nice towards them in person, but horribly rude behind the scenes.
You put on the show when that person is around you. You act super nice to their face. They might even act like you like them. But behind the scenes you turn into a snake. You rip them apart with your negative words to your other friends. You bash them to pieces and speak in tones of disgust.
This is not only an issue of gossip, but also an issue of deception, slander, and anger. If you have a genuine issue with this person, then the biblical solution would be to graciously confront them about it. But if your anger is simply rooted in jealousy and pride, then you need to repent of that sin and ask God to help you show Christ-like love to that person.
How did you measure up to the 4 easy-to-miss signs of gossip?
If gossip has become a regular part of your life, I want to challenge you to address this sin right away. Words have power. You might even need to courageously seek forgiveness from certain friends and acquaintances that have been the focus of your gossip.
Pray for strength each day to resist the gossip train.
Pray for the conviction to see this temptation when it pops up. As my friend Erin Davis reminds us, “Because of our sinful hearts, resisting gossip is difficult, if not impossible on our own. That’s why we need Jesus to help us.”
Here are a few practical tips that have helped me avoid gossip in my life.
Don’t Fuel the Fire.
“Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, a quarrel dies down” (Proverbs 26:20). Gossip can’t happen without words. Sometimes it might be better to simply keep your mouth shut.
Change the Subject.
“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:16). When the conversations turn to gossip, choose to strategically change the subject by bringing up a different topic altogether.
Point Out the Positives.
“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). Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of gossip, choose to mention the positive character traits of the person who’s being talked about. Point out something encouraging or nice about them to steer the conversation elsewhere.
- In what ways do you find gossip creeping into your life?
- What strategies have you found helpful for stopping gossip?