"We sin so easily with our tongue in this respect, don't we?! In saying things that are injurious to the good name of others." Alistair Begg
One topic that has been on my heart for awhile now and that is very convicting to me as a Christian is the topic of communication, in particular gossip. I have found that it is so much easier and so tempting to to spew unnecessary and unedifying information to nearly whoever will listen than it is to sing praises and speak in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). But if I'm 100% honest, the question - "What does the Bible actually say about gossip?" - crossed my mind multiple times. I know I'm not alone in this, because when I looked up the dictionary definition of gossip in a group of friends, we all were a little shocked at how broad the definition was and how much of our own conversations fell into the very trap that we had brushed off as non-gossip.
What is gossip?
The dictionary definition of gossip is "casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true; or a person who likes talking about other people's private lives."
What does the Bible say about gossip?
The Bible calls gossip by many other names besides strictly "gossip" in our English language. Gossip can be linked under words such as "corrupt communication," "talebearer," "busy bodies," one who "meddles," etc. Proverbs especially has a lot to say about those who engage in gossip, and all of it shows how destructive the practice is and definitely something Christians should flee from!
19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
Proverbs 20:19 KJV
12 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Proverbs 11:12-13 KJV
Verse 12 really hits the nail on the head. When we engage in gossip and corrupt communication against another (speaking evil as Titus 3:2 calls it), our hearts are set against them. Whether would we actually say if someone asked us that we "despise" that person, we are setting our hearts against them in a condemning or judgmental manner.
Alistair Begg in his sermon series "Measure for Measure" instructed his congregation to ask the following questions before they open their mouths to speak: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it edifying?
I have started asking myself these questions when I am about to speak, and let me tell you - you will say a lot less and be a whole lot more content with sitting quiet.
I pray daily that the Lord would renew my heart and let the communication that proceeds out of my mouth to be good and fruitful and edifying to the hearer. One verse that I often pray and is really the example I strive to follow is Ephesians 4:29.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Ephesians 4:29 KJV
Good communication is one that edifies or uplifts. It is merciful and full of grace. Paul talks about our communication being in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs that encourage other believers rather than put them down (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).
Jesus teaches that our communication should not be condemning nor judgmental but forgiving and from a pure heart (Luke 6:37).
I'll leave you with one final passage of Scripture that really convicted me, and I hope and pray that it touches your heart as well. I highlighted categories or groups that our conversation (the words we speak) can place us in (although I pray it doesn't!). Where will your conversation place you? I hope that instead of falling into these categories below we all can be found in the camp that is described as having edifying conversations that minister grace to those who hear our words.
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:29-32 KJVI pray daily for a revival in me and in my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ - let's start with a renewal of our conversation. I hope you pray for me as I pray for you that we all may grow closer to Jesus day by day, redeeming the time for the day is evil.
With love and prayers,
Resources to help you go further...
I highly recommend listening to the sermon series by Alistair Begg called "Measure for Measure." Spotify has all three sermons on the podcast titled Truth for Life Daily Program which is Alistair's podcast. It can also be found with transcripts (if you wanted to read it) on his website truthforlife.org. I've attached the links below for you.