It was High School.
I remember it like it was yesterday…
I was an office worker with a quiet, sweet girl who I considered a friend. There had been days where I defended her when others talked about her. There were days I had walked away. Oh, but that was not this day. This day, I gave in and jumped right in to gossiping about my friend. Maybe it was a bad day, maybe I wanted to fit in—Honestly, I don’t remember all of the details. All I remember is the look on her face when she walked up and heard us. Immediately, my heart broke for her. She said nothing, but her face said it all.
Later that day, I apologized to her. She was so understanding, gracious, and forgiving. Her sweet tone made me even sicker to my stomach, honestly. I had truly hurt my friend. After that day, I never said an ugly word about her again. But, the look on her face and the hurt in her eyes I still carry with me to this day. Many times, it has been this very memory that has stopped me from blabbing things that I shouldn’t. However, I am sad to say there have been times it hasn’t as well.
I know in my heart that gossiping is NOT beneficial, and I am trying with all of my heart to not give in to this sin. Only, I can not do this on my own, but I can in God’s strength. I have started praying about this issue, because it is just THAT important to me. So, preaching to myself here, there are three questions I want to consider when it comes to gossiping.
1. When is gossiping ok?
I think of Ephesians 4:29 which says:
“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.”
This is a perfect place to start because we must ask ourselves, “Will what I am about to say build others up according to THEIR needs and benefit those who listen?” Shortly after this verse in Ephesians 4:31-32, it says:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
We must examine our hearts BEFORE gossiping. If there is any rage, anger, brawling, slander, or malice, we need to lay it down at the cross. Is what we are about to say kind and compassionate? If it is, then we should be able to go straight to the person about it! Mark 12:31 tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This really helps put things in perspective for me. Would I rather someone gossip ABOUT me or talk TO me about it? I think the choice is clear. I would much rather someone talk to me about their concerns than about me. So, if I’m loving my neighbor as myself, then that is how I will treat them as well.
The most common reasons people give to gossip are that they are “concerned about the person” or “want to help.” So, I want to stay here for a minute. Will talking about someone actually help or comfort them? No, it will not. Instead, I think your concern is rightly placed there for a purpose. It just comes down to WHAT you choose to do with that concern. It may be intimidating, but why not talk to them about what they are going through and offer to pray with them? I promise you talking to the actual person and praying for them will go SO much farther than talking about the person.
Lastly, our culture finds it perfectly acceptable to gossip about family within your immediate family, because “they are family.” From a Biblical perspective, is it really ok to gossip about our family? No. It is not beneficial nor does it build them up in Christ. They are our family, and we should be able to reach out, be honest, and talk to them about issues.
2. Where is gossiping ok?
If I am honest, I used to think that gossiping was ok if it was just to my husband. It would be quiet, remain a secret, and help me “think things through”. Boy oh boy, was I wrong. Psalms 101:5 says, “Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.” So, is it ok to gossip in secret? What about within our own home, to our husband or trusted friends? No, because gossip offends God EVEN when it is done in silence. For God sees straight to our hearts.
3. When is gossiping beneficial?
Well, it’s not. For even if you are the one being gossiped about, “Where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” (Proverbs 26:20). And what I have learned from experience is gossiping will not last very long if you do not participate in the gossiping but instead love and pray for the other person. Prayer is SO powerful, and God hates gossip as much as we hate being gossiped about. Instead, talk to the other person if you have differences or concerns and pray together! This is what the body of believers is all about, building each other up in Christ.
Recently, I have been hurt by others gossiping about me. It is something we all endure from time to time. It is not fun not being “included” or being the one talked about, but isn’t this what Jesus warned us of? (Philippians 3:7-11) Following Him guarantees we will never be the “in-crowd” nor the “cool kids”, often even in Christian circles. Following Him means humble hearts that are willing to lay down our lives (our reputations, popularity, goals, etc) for His sake and sometimes this even means being gossiped about. Oh, but please oh please do not give into the lie that “they” deserve to be gossiped about since they are gossiping about you. Let us remember what Jesus endured for our sins at Calvary and may we choose to love and forgive just as our Father forgives us. This is a tough, tough battle to fight, but it is worth it!! We all have different gifts that make up the body of Christ, and we need each other!
Lord, humble our hearts that we may be confident in You so gossip will not define nor hurt us. Keep our tongues from evil and our lips from telling lies, Lord. May we glorify you with all we do and say. Set a guard over our mouths and keep watch over our lips. Give us the courage, Lord, to talk to others about issues. Build up Your Church all for Your glory, God. Amen.