Killing Gossip Without Killing The Gossiper

Read: Proverbs 20:19

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

There’s just something in our nature that loves gossip.  And it’s not just you and me… gossip is a problem in every church where I’ve served.  I think it’s safe to say that gossip is a problem in every relationship, home, neighborhood, school and workplace in America. Gossip has become quite acceptable in our society.

This week I looked up the word gossip on an Internet search engine and got 71,300,000 hits.  Now I didn’t look them up all up, but I did notice that the entries on the first few pages treated gossip as something perfectly acceptable. We just love to get the latest on what’s going on in other people’s lives.  And the only thing better is to be the one who dishes out the skinny on others.  Don’t you just love having the scoop?  Gossip is quite alluring, to say the least.  Proverbs 18:8 says, “Gossip is so tasty—how we love to swallow it!” (TEV)

The problem is, God hates it. That’s pretty clear here in Proverbs—as well as the rest of the Bible.  In fact, God made up a law just for gossip…and the gossiper.  God himself says in Leviticus 19:16, “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.  Do not try to get ahead at the cost of your neighbor’s life, for I am the Lord your God.” In Psalm 101:5, says, “put a gag on the gossip who bad-mouths his neighbor; I can’t stand arrogance.” So it’s pretty clear how God feels about gossip.

So if I find myself in circles where a gossiper is present, what can I do to honor God and defeat gossip?

To begin with, I must be willing to redirect the conversation of a gossip.  If I’m in a conversation that turns to gossip, I’ve got to be committed to challenging it.  If I don’t, if I listen to it, then I’m just as guilty as the one gossiping.   The point is, it takes two to gossip, and if you remove the listener, gossip doesn’t work.  Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

Here are some suggestions when you’re with someone who begins to spread a bad report about a third party.  Try saying, “Let’s not talk about that person without them being here.” Or, “Could I quote you on that?” Or, “Let’s look at their positive qualities.  What do you like about that person?” Be wise enough and bold enough to turn the conversation.

Next, if that doesn’t work, I must be ready to reprove the one who persists in gossip.  I may have to get on them a little bit—that’ll put a stop to it.  Sure, that takes courage, but when you consider that doing nothing makes you a party to it; when you consider how it’s repulsive to God, it’s a favor to them when you confront it.  Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Proverbs 28:23 teaches, “He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.”

And finally, sometimes it’s necessary that I remove myself from the presence of a chronic gossip.  If the gossiper persists and you’ve tried to redirect it, if gossip continues after you’ve confronted it, then get away from it.  As our proverb for today bluntly puts it, “Stay away from gossips” (Proverbs 20:19, CEV)

Perhaps removing yourself from that friendship, or Bible study or prayer group where it occurs, and spelling out why, will bring conviction to those who are gossiping, and in the end, kill gossip without killing the gossiper.

“Nothing makes a long story short like the arrival
of the person you happen to be talking about.

Your Assignment, Should You Choose To Accept It:

One of the ways to kill gossip is not to be a gossiper yourself.  So today, when you are in doubt about what to say about another person, employ the discipline of filtering your words through the “THINK” principle before you say them:

T – is it true?  Do I know this to be absolute fact?  If so, then…

H – is it helpful?  Will this build them up, or cause them to stumble?

I – is it inspiring?  Does this call out the best in them?

N – is it necessary?  What’s my motive for saying this?

K – is it kind?  Will my words be God’s instrument of blessing?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “Killing Gossip Without Killing The Gossiper

  1. I have said this for years, taught it to my children, called out a gossiper ever so gently, and start with each new person I mentor, each book club I lead, and each study I lead the following…."never say or do anything that casts a shadow on the character of another…:"

    I have not always been so gently, but stand behind the honor of another. A dear friend who has been my mentor and friend for over 20 years was introduced to me by way of gossip. A friend at church pointed out this woman and told me things about her that she had experienced. I could not believe my ears as I stood there, this was the wife of a leader in this church and I decided 20 years ago how this made me feel as a young mother and Christian. I decided to give the one being gossiped about my time. And to this day she is a Godly woman who have never spoke ill-will of anyone.

    Good reminder and post Pastor.