The Sin of Gossip.

Received this letter from our church weekly. Indeed, it is so true on gossip, and rumor spreader. In fact, these days, one does not even have to state a rumor statement. Just a QUESTION is sufficient to make a situation worse than a stated rumor. A question is open ended, and causes people to speculate. As the common saying goes, nothing better to say? Shut up. 🙂

The Sin of Gossip

What is gossip? Gossip is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it.

Gossipers like to speak of the faults and failings of others or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval.

A member of a local church was driving along a red-light district when she saw her pastor and another man, arm in arm, coming down the stairway of a local bar. Suddenly, the pastor stumbled down the steps. Her first thought was, “Hey! My pastor has been drinking and he is so intoxicated that he fell down from the staircase.” She was aware of the high calling of a pastor. She was so enraged of his sin of drunkenness that she began to tell other members in the church saying “Do you know what I just saw our pastor doing?”

Within a few days, many of the church members had developed a bad attitude toward him but he didn’t know why. He began to ask some of his congregants why they are giving him a cold shoulder. One of the deacons pulled him aside and said, “Pastor, your sin has been found out!” “What sin,” exclaimed the pastor! The deacon replied, “Now don’t go denying that you were drunk yesterday, and a sister saw you stumbled down the stairs of the local bar.”

The pastor was stunned. For a moment he did not know what to say. Then he said, “Recently, I led a man to the Lord. He was an alcoholic. He stayed away from drinking for a couple of months. However, at a recent wedding dinner, his friends encouraged him to have a little drink. Well, thinking it was alright for him to have a little sip, he acceded to his friends’ request. A friend of his called me and I had to go to the bar to plead with him to leave with me. As I was trying to hold him up while we were going down the stairs, I tripped and stumbled, and that was what that sister saw. I was just trying to help a struggling brother in Christ.”

When that sister got to know the truth, she felt really bad about what she had done to her pastor – slander. Without any delay, she called the pastor and asked for forgiveness and promised him that she would go and tell those she gossiped to the true story.

The pastor did forgive her. However, he wanted to teach her a lesson just how damaging gossip can be, so he brought her to the church tower. He took out a feather pillow and cut it open. Then he released the soft and fluffy feathers into the breeze. As the feathers floated all around town, he said to her, “I would like you to go and gather all those feathers now, and don’t fail to bring back every single one of them.”

She replied, “It’s impossible! I could never gather every last feather!” The pastor said, “You’re right!” He continued, “Those feathers are just like gossip which you have released into the community. There is no way you can stop gossip from spreading in the church and beyond. I hope you can see how damaging gossip is!”

Gossip is a deadly Sin

Many a church’s health has been destroyed by the sin of gossip. If gossip is such a devastating sin, how should the leaders of the church deal with gossipers? Can they be let go without church discipline? If gossip is a deadly sin, will they be allowed to partake of the Lord’s Supper? The warning of Paul to the Corinthian Christians concerning the partaking of the Lord’s Supper must not be taken lightly lest they bring damnation upon themselves for receiving the bread and the cup in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27).

Gossipers are under the wrath of God. Writing to the Romans, Paul said that God has poured out His wrath upon people who committed the following list of sins, and two of these sins were “whisperers” and “backbiters” (Romans 1:29). Gossipers and backbiters are condemned in the sight of God.

Writing to the Galatians, Paul warned them against the sin of backbiting. Backbiting is speaking spitefully or slanderously about a person. It is talking down someone behind his back in a derogatory, an uncomplimentary, unfavourable manner. The late William Barclay put it beautifully: “Katalalia is a sin of those who meet in corners and gather in little groups and pass on confidential titbits of
information which destroy the good name of those who are not there to defend themselves” (The Daily Study Bible on James, p 111).

When Christians do not love and serve each other, they become vicious and they bite, devour and consume one another (Galatians 5:13-15). The word depicts the law of the jungle whereby wild beasts prey on one another and engage in the fury of a deadly struggle.

Have Lifers become ineffective for God because Christian liberty has been accompanied by selfish license rather than by love for others? So, watch out! If Lifers continue to act like animals (bite, devour and consume) hurting and harming one another, we will destroy one another in no time.

Proverbs 20:19 warns us to stay away from gossipers because they tell the whole world everything. Writing to young Timothy, Paul said that some widows like to indulge themselves in gossip. Oftentimes, they have nothing to do in life and so, they look for something to occupy their idleness and indulge themselves in the habit of going from house to house gossiping and becoming busybodies, talking about things that are none of their business (1 Timothy 5:12, 13). Have you heard of the saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop?”

Women are certainly not the only ones who have been found guilty of spreading personal information about other people. Anybody is capable of repeating things heard in confidence. A gossiper makes secrets public (Proverbs 11:13). He causes hard feelings and ruins friendship (Proverbs 16:28). Gossip stirs up trouble and causes anger,
misunderstanding, bitterness and pain among friends. Proverbs says, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (Proverbs 18:8). Are we guilty of it?

Guard our Tongues

The only way to refrain from the sinful act of gossip is to control our tongues. Proverbs reminds us that he who keeps watch over his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23). How true it is!

James’ descriptions of the tongue are excellent. Though it is a small part of the body it takes credit for great things. The tongue is like a fire placed in our bodies making every part of it unclean. Every kind of animal is controllable but the tongue is uncontrollable because it is restless and full of evil, and always spreading its deadly poison (James 3:6-8).

If a fellow Christian comes to you with gossip, what do you do? Don’t listen to him or her! If he or she speaks ill of another fellow Christian, tell him or her firmly to go and talk with the person that he or she seems to be offended by or go and get the story straight. Encourage him or her to reconcile with the person he or she is gossiping about. Warn him or her with the words of Proverbs which says, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). Simply put: The person who is always talking will eventually fall into many sins of the tongue.

King David was a good example of one who guards his own tongue. He was careful of what he spoke especially in the presence of his enemies. He would not say anything to disgrace his God or to give his enemies an opportunity to find fault with him. He guarded his way very carefully so that he might not sin with his tongue (Psalm 39:1).

My dear Lifers, let us watch and guard our tongues. Do not be involved in the devil’s business of destroying the testimonies of fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. By all means, speak the truth in love. Build up one another in the most holy faith (Jude 20), for this is pleasing to the Lord.

If you are still struggling with gossip, it is high time to remember from where you have fallen and repent (Revelation 2:5) and ask God to help you to develop godly speech patterns that build other fellow Christians up (Colossians 4:6). May I suggest you pray the following prayer of consecration:

O Lord, please forgive me, for being a part of gossip, both for listening to it and for passing it on. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.

I pray all this in the precious Name of Jesus. Amen.

—Lovingly in Christ, Pastor Colin


~ by ymsim on 2009/10/31.

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