Two employees worked for a small town in New Hampshire for a total of 46 years between them. They heard and spread a rumor about an improper relationship between a town administrator and another employee. The story turned out to be false, and the administrator complained. The town council investigated the administrator’s complaint and fired the women for gossiping, saying “Gossip, whispering, and an unfriendly environment are causing poor morale and interfering with the efficient performance of town business.” The women were shocked and one remarked that they simply discussed the matter at lunch and dropped it. She couldn’t believe they were fired over gossip.
It is hard to believe, but certainly sends a message—gossip is destructive and won’t be allowed. How many of us would lose our jobs based on this standard? And gossip is a problem in the church that we don’t like to talk about. We might think –we aren’t gossiping, we are just venting or sharing our concerns.
Gossip is like a secret craving. You might not like it, but when you hear or are a part of it, you do not want to stop. In fact, Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Those choice morsels sell magazines and provide entertainment to many, but often at the expense of someone’s well-being.
You probably remember the old saying: “If you can’t say something good about others, don’t say anything at all.” Proverbs 20:19 supports this. “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” When it comes to gossip, the biblical instruction is simply to stop and not associate with those who are gossiping. If you pass on the gossip, there is nowhere for it to go. Wise advice if you wish to avoid sin.
Gossip is not helpful. It destroys trust and ruins our credibility. It is nearly always one-sided, and it is often distorted. So here is our charge: Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” If we could follow this instruction, gossip would disappear.
And here is a good test. Imagine the person you are talking about is standing next to you. Would you say the same words? If not, don’t say it. Think, are you about to gossip? Then ask God to let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable to Him. If we pray that Scripture, He will make us more aware of our words and heart condition. Finally, confess our negative words and thank God for His grace and mercy and the power of the Holy Spirit to help with self-control.He said, she said — should we say?