2 Timothy 2:23-3:5 (NIV)
23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
Gossip is often regarded as a relatively harmless pastime, particularly when compared to “bigger” wrongs like murder or adultery. Satan has painted idle talk as innocuous, but if we peel away the deception, we discover the ugly truth. In the Bible God lists gossip among the most depraved sins. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:
Romans 1:28-31 (NIV)
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
Nothing about gossip is harmless. Whether the talk is intentionally cruel or simply some idle musing, the target of the comments can be embarrassed or hurt. I had a friend, from one of my men’s groups, decide to trace a damaging story about himself back to the original source. He asked one man after another, “Where did you hear this?” Seventeen people later, he finally found the person who had originated the story. This fellow admitted he had speculated aloud regarding a situation about which he knew very little. A destructive chain reaction began with just one man jumping to a false conclusion while chatting with a friend.
Even if the victim never learns of the chitchat going on his or her back, gossip still has consequences. The people who spread story reveal their inner thinking:
Matthew 12:34b (NIV)
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
A poisonous tongue flows with the jealousy, resentment, or pride that resides in the heart of the person.
Gossip has the power to hurt feelings, destroy reputations and friendships, and divide churches. We do not have the right to bring such damage into anyone’s life. In fact, God is the only one we should turn to when we hear a story about somebody. Those facing trials need prayer and love rather than tongues wagging over their struggles and misfortunes.
Please keep in mind the full extent of the possible consequences before you choose whether to engage in gossiping. Hopefully by pondering and praying about it, we will choose to take a better path. A path that builds up and does not destroy.