What the Bible Says About Rumors and Gossip
It is tempting to get involved in gossip, but gathering around the watercooler
can harm us as well as other people.
Our Obsession With Celebrity
Our culture is obsessed with gossip. Many people just have to know which celebrities are dating, cheating, divorcing, partying, or going to rehab. Celebrities are hounded by paparazzi and reporters.
Since bad behavior and poor life choices of people in the public eye sells more magazines and get lots of Internet clicks, photographers and reporters are always seem to be digging for dirt or creating it if the juicy stuff is not there.
Since bad behavior and poor life choices sell more magazines and get lots of Internet clicks, photographers and reporters are always seem to be digging for dirt or creating it if the juicy stuff is not there. The poor celebrities have no peace or privacy because of society's insatiable need to know.
In the same way, Christians can get caught up not only in this kind of gossip, but become busybodies in people's lives and think it is harmless.
What God Thinks About Gossip
The apostle Paul says that there are some people who know God, but choose to do things worthy of death (Romans 1:24-32). Paul lists things that we could expect to see in his list of things not to do, such as jealousy, strife, malice, sexual sins, pride, boating, God haters, and rebellion against parents. Among all of these undesirable characteristics is slander and gossip.
The tongue has the power of life and death and is not something to be taken lightly (Proverbs 18:21). One of the ten commandments says that we should not bear false witness against people. Spreading rumors can be like bearing false witness because they are often based on misunderstanding or wrong information. Gossip destroys reputations, and lies and misinformation can ruin people’s lives – including our own. We can benefit from understanding why people gossip and avoid busybodies.
Some Reasons Why People Gossip
- Pride, with a feeling of superiority over other people
- A need to feel special as a person with “inside information”
- A desire to put other people down as a way to deal with their low self-esteem
- Boredom with their lives
- To vent resentment, bitterness and hostility against their target
- To intentionally hurt another person because they are jealous of him or her
- To fit in and be accepted by peers who gossip
How to Handle Gossips
The Bible says that gossips are busybodies. These people repeat information they have no right to share, spread rumors, and talk about someone in a negative way behind their backs. Gossips can cover up their tattletales as concern for others or a need to vent something about the other person. Their stories are full of distortions, lies, and exaggerations. They tend to complain that their problems are continuing without resolution and that their prayers are not being heard (Prov. 6:12-15).
Create a rumor free-zone
- Remember that we represent Jesus Christ as Christians, making mistakes but striving to be the best we can
- Thank before we speak
- Keep our talk wholesome and encouraging to others (Ephesians 4:29)
- If we can't say anything good, we should say nothing
- Gossip is not wholesome or edifying
- Do not allow gossip to happen around you - let people know that gossip is not allowed around you
Gossips can tell us how great we look and use lavish flattery while telling us what a great job we are doing. Then, as soon as our backs are turned, they will tell another person that we have had plastic surgery or had an affair with the boss to get our promotion. They love to talk and won’t shut up (Proverbs 20:19). Sometimes they successfully mask their gossip as love and concern for the other person.
Gossips are exposed eventually because they can’t keep a secret. They feed on the latest tidbits in more of a frenzy than piranha chomping a meal in the Amazon basin (Prov. 26:22).
Gossips lack common sense and can’t resist blabbing. They are on a path that will eventually destroy them (Proverbs 11:12).
Avoid people who are busybodies, if possible
We should avoid people who slander others (Proverbs 20:19). The Bible calls gossips “good-for-nothing” people who are always trying to dig up something bad about others. They can ruin close friendships and stir up all kinds of trouble (Proverbs 16:27-28; 20:19). Their tongues are as destructive as swords and burning fire (Psalm 64:2-4) If we involve ourselves in gossip, we risk being destroyed ourselves (Proverbs 11:9) Some gossips are lazy and spend their time being disruptive busybodies instead of working (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12). They lack insight, loyalty, love, and mercy (Romans 1:28-32).
Set a good example by not participating in rumormonging
Our relationship with God will be harmed if we become enmeshed in slandering others. God rejects people who slander their neighbors, and the arrogance and pride that are often present in them (Psalms 101:5).
As Christians we can set a good example by being trustworthy and keeping secrets to ourselves (Proverbs 11:13). When people offend us, we can show them love at all times by forgiving them and not mentioning the offense to someone else. Without gossip, everyone can calm down, the same way a fire without wood goes out (Proverbs 26:20, Proverbs 17:17)
Our conversation should be wholesome, building people up, and meeting their needs (Ephesians 4:29, 1 Peter 2:1, Titus 3:1-2). We can keep the peace that way and maintain healthy relationships with others.
Take action against gossip
When people start to gossip, the Bible says we should tell to stop and refuse to listen. If people won’t stop, we should walk away. (Titus 3:3:1-11) If we do participate in slanderous talk, we need to repent of it and try to avoid it in the future
© 2013 Carola Finch