Church Gossip

by Bryant Evans on March 2, 2011

Church gossip is especially bad. It’s not funny and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Gossip is dangerous no matter where it is found but when it’s in God’s family it seems much more hurtful. After all, you expect the best from your brothers and sisters. If someone in the workplace or in class talks behind your back it still hurts but it is expected. Church gossip hurts people and the cause of Christ. It must stop.

We’ve had plenty to say about church gossip on this website. By the looks of our article statistics church gossip remains a major problem in  the body of Christ so we thought we would revisit the subject.

Solomon knew gossip in his day.

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19 NIV).

Here is Paul’s assessment of waging tongues.

“The were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are filled with envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips” (Romans 1:29).

So we should be clear, gossip is a bad thing.

Church Gossip Defined

Gossip is one of those things that we know when we hear it. But putting a definition together is not so easy. This definition is imperfect but seems to get the point across:

Gossip is the inappropriate  communication of unflattering, embarrassing, hurtful or humiliating information about a person to another person. Truth is irrelevant.

There are two key parts here that I want to focus upon. First is the term “inappropriate.” Sometimes it is necessary to say things about someone that is not kind. Legal cases are probably the best example. But Jesus even allows such talk (Matthew 18:15-20). I think we all know that this is not church gossip.

The second part I want you to notice is the last phrase. “Truth is irrelevant.” How many times have you heard someone say, “this isn’t gossip because its true”? It doesn’t matter if the “unflattering, embarrassing, hurtful or humiliating information” is true. It is still gossip. Apply the Golden Rule when trying to define gossip (Matthew 7:12). If roles were reversed, would you want it said about you?

Inadvertent Church Gossip

Sometimes we gossip accidentally. There is no thought of gossip and certainly no intent to harm or embarrass. Yet the words still come out. Maybe a friend confides in you or asks for advice about a delicate subject. You do your best to help. But later, while speaking with someone else, you let the secret slip. Now what?

At the instant you realize your error, explain your words and ask for confidentiality. Maybe the damage can be limited. Second, and this is hard, confess your mistake to the person who confided in you. This will prevent them from thinking you deliberately violated their confidence. It will also demonstrate that you are serious about being a good, confidential friend. Embarrassing? Yes. But you will find that your friend will respect you for your honesty.

Remember, gossip need not be intentional to be hurtful.

Breaking the habit of gossip is as hard as breaking any other bad habit. But it is especially important in the church. There is no other group or assembly like the body of Christ. Relationships in Christ must be nurtured and defended. Gossip, for whatever reason harms the body and must be stopped.

With prayer and by God’s good grace you can shatter the gossip habit. Then you will be equipped to help other break the same habit.

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