Denounce Gossip

November 21, 2010 Michelle Murray

In the Bible, Proverbs has much to say on the subject of gossip and how destructive careless talk can be. A gossip betrays a confidence (Proverbs 11:13), so avoid a man who talks too much (Proverbs 20:19). A gossip separates close friends (Proverbs 16:28). Without gossip a quarrel dies down (Proverbs 26:20). He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity (Proverbs 21:23).

Paul was afraid that when he returned to the Christians in Corinth he would find “quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” (2 Corinthians 12:20). Paul had to deal with similar problems amongst the Christians in Rome. “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, slanderers… they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them” (Romans 1:29-32). James 1:26 says that anyone who does not keep a tight reign on his tongue deceives himself and his religion is worthless. It’s worth reading James 3:1-12 on the subject of ‘Taming the Tongue’ which shows how destructive the tongue can be. Verse 9 concludes that “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness… My brothers this should not be.” Jesus said: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

Gods word is therefore very clear in denouncing gossip as un-Christian. We know that whatever is not of faith is sin, and anything that causes division amongst Christians is of the Devil. Christians not only have a duty to refrain from gossip, but also to denounce it. Sometimes we have to be cruel to be kind, and it may be that you need to disassociate yourself from these people, but first speak to them about their conduct, and try to help them see the error of their ways. Stand by your Christian principles and pray they might come to their senses.

Here is an interesting insight I found in a book written by Naomi Alderman who grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community of Hendon, London: “Our sages warn us often against the perils of gossip: ‘lashon hara’ which means, literally, an evil tongue. Certainly, it is forbidden to spread false tales. Is this not bearing false witness – an action forbidden in the ten utterances from Mount Sinai? And as it is forbidden to speak false tales, so it is forbidden to listen to them, for he who speaks and he who listens both sin against the name of the Lord. One of our sages rebuked a woman who had spread gossip. He gave her a pillow and instructed her to take it to the top of the highest building in town and shake out its feathers to the four winds. The woman did so. Then the sage said to her, “Now go and gather up all of those feathers which you have scattered.” The woman cried out that the task was impossible. “Ah,” said the sage, “how much easier, though, than gathering up the tales you have spread.” Easier to cause a mountain to skip like a lamb than to retrieve an evil story once it has passed the guard of our lips.”

Fantastic advice!

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