What do you first think of when you hear the word “gossip”? I think of a group of housewives sitting around a table having brunch or lunch, while discussing the latest events in all their neighbor’s lives (not necessarily the ones that are present).
According to the Pocket Oxford American Dictionary & Thesaurus, it defines gossip as;
“gossip (1) casual conversation about other people (2) disapproving a person who likes talking about other people. talk about other people.
Synonyms (1) news, rumors, scandal, hearsay, tittle-tattle; dirt, buzz, scuttlebutt. (2) chat, talk, conversation, chatter, heart-t0-heart, tête-à-tête; gabfest, jaw, gas, chinwag (3) gossipmonger, busybody, scandalmonger, rumor-monger, muckraker. (1) talk, whisper, tell tales, spread rumors; dish, dish the dirt (2) people sat around gossiping chat, talk, converse; shoot the breeze, gas, chew the fat, jaw, chinwag (Gossip, 2010).”
“In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.” -Ezekial 22:9 [KJV]
“He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” -Proverbs 20:19 [KJV]
“A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” -Proverbs 11:13 [KJV]
“Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.” -Psalms 50:20 [KJV]
“Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:16 [KJV]
“And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” –1 Timothy 5:13 [KJV]
“For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” –2 Thessalonians 3:11 [KJV]
The Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible describes busybodies as;
“(1) Either lounging around or becoming a religious gossip to stir up trouble.
(2) Greek word periergazomai – to be busy about useless matters; doing everything that they should not do; meddlers in the business of others; prying into the domestic affairs of others. Such people are a curse to every neighborhood and a plague to every religious group (Dake, 2011, p. 403).”
“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” –1 Peter 4:15 [KJV]
“The inspector of another; meddling in the affairs of others and forgetting his own (Dake, 2011, p. 470).”
The Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible defines slander as;
“Hebrew word lashan – to use the tongue to defame abuse, scandalize, belittle, or blacken the character of another (Dake, 2011, p. 1047).”
To me the word lashan brings to mind the word lash as in to lash out at one with your tongue.
“Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, then thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.” -James 4:11 [KJV]
You may ask, “What is so bad about gossip anyway…everyone does it?”. Gossip can ruin someone’s credibility, start fights, create divisions between people and organizations, bring hurt to the innocent, rise up anger and vengeance, become distorted truth – the more times it is told and farther it spreads, dissolve friendships, break up marriages, cause distrust, and much more. Even if a person’s intentions are good, destruction can still be caused through gossip. There is a reason why the Bible speaks against it and it is for our own good.
I did not realize that gossip could extend to so many different forms of behavior. Turning on the TV (entertainment shows gossiping about celebrities), walking through a checkout line at a grocery store (tabloids, entertainment magazines), sitting in a cafè (gossipers around you), at work among a group of co-workers (co-workers talking about other co-workers). Gossip is everywhere we turn. Even though gossip is flooding us from all directions, we still have a choice of how to deal with it. We can look away, walk away, or focus our thoughts in another direction.
If we allow ourselves to absorb the gossip around us, we will soon become desensitized to it. Once we are desensitized, gossip will seem more natural to us and it will be much easier to fall into it. At the same time it will become harder to define the line between gossip and non-gossip conversation.
Often times people fall into gossip because they do not know what is the true definition of gossip.
For myself, if I am unsure of what may be defined as gossip…I keep my talking to a minimum (too much talking can lead into gossip if one is not careful) especially if there is nothing else left to say, I try to edify and build up people whenever I have the chance, I try to keep the conversation directed towards the person I am talking to and myself (refrain from including other people into the conversation who are not present), I try to speak positive rather than negative…speaking from the love that is in my heart
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” -Luke 6:45 [KJV]
and thinking first on what to speak before speaking.
Now, I know I am not perfect. If I do fall into gossip, I stop myself as I am being convicted and confess to the Lord what I have done
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –1 John 1:9 [KJV]
and thank him for His forgiveness
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” -1 Peter 2:24 [KJV]
In the same way if someone else is speaking gossip, I must walk away or request them to stop.
To wag or not to wag that is the question.
Dake, F.J.(2011).Dake’s annotated reference bible:The holy bible.Lawrenceville, GA: Dake Publishing, Inc.
Gossip.(2010).Pocket oxford american dictionary & thesaurus (3rd ed., pp. 348-349).New York, NY: Oxford University Press