Around water coolers and coffee pots at work on Monday mornings, we catch up with all the “information” that we read on Facebook over the weekend. When we pick up our kids from school in the afternoon, we chat with the other parents about what “news” they heard about during the day. Standing in line at the checkout in the grocery store, we see the magazines that declare who’s cheating on whom, who’s pregnant and who’s getting a divorce. In bible studies, we ask for “prayers” for someone who is in a bad situation.
Be assured that this is not harmless information, news or a true request for prayer. It’s gossip, and it’s redefining us. In our carelessness, we are hurting others and ourselves.
Proverbs puts it this way: “Troublemakers start fights; gossips break up friendships” (Proverbs 16:28, MSG). As the Body of Christ, we shouldn’t be starting fights and breaking up friendships. Instead, we should be building each other up in community and showing compassion and love through genuine caring and concern.
How Gossip Hurts You
So, you may be thinking that if you tell one friend something confidential about another friend and the two of them do not know each other that it’s not hurting anyone, right? Wrong.
Most people recognize that gossiping hurts those being talked about, especially if it comes to their attention, but did you know that it hurts the gossiper as well?
Gossiping makes you look untrustworthy. When you are not able to keep the confidences of those who invest their trust in you, chances are you’ll wind up as a lonely person. After all, if you are telling me things about another one of your friends, how do I know that you’re not telling her things about me?
Another way that sharing information that is not yours to share can hurt is by raising anxiety levels. Those who gossip have more apprehension than those who don’t. This is more than likely due to the fact that they cannot be trusted and therefore have fewer friends. Another verse to keep in mind is “Gossips can’t keep secrets, so never confide in blabbermouths” (Proverbs 20:19, MSG).
How Gossip Hurts God
Gossiping hurts God. He loves all of His children, and when one of us hurts another, He is grieved because we are all His image bearers (Genesis 1:27, NIV).
In the Gospel of Mark, God tells us that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. There are things we would never disclose about our own lives that we have no problem with sharing about others. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you won’t share information about them that you wouldn’t wish them to share about you. Gossip is not love, and we disappoint God when we damage those around us with it.
So, how can you avoid all of this gossip collateral? Don’t commit to holding a confidence unless you actually intend to do so. Gossiping is like breaking a promise. When we don’t make good on our promises, we become untrustworthy.
Sometimes, keeping a confidence means not sharing information with your spouse. My husband and I agreed years ago that if someone came to us in confidence that we would ask their permission to share the information with each other. If the person said no, then we simply didn’t discuss it – period. By doing this, we have been able to build trust and strengthen relationships with people who have been hurt by gossip in the past. In the process, we are able to grow more spiritually mature.
You may also be interested in How To Be Humble In An All-About-Me Culture