“I have never seen adultery send a whole church into meltdown. Gossip is perceived as a little sin but it destroys church.” -Unknown
Wow. What a statement. I’m not sure who wrote that but that woke me up. Gossip can be seen as an accepted sin in any community. And the fact is that it is accepted. The problem is that sin is sin and there’s no such thing as a sin that is accepted. We need to repent! I’ve even heard gossip about people that are passionate about scripture, posting verses, on fire for God. We need more of that. We don’t need more passive men but people that are on a holy pursuit of righteousness and character.
Why do I feel a need to write about Gossip?
I’m concerned about the unity of the church. I’m concerned that this particular sin is justified and accepted. I need a review of this. It’s a communal effort and I think we need a good understanding of the implications. What is Gossip and how do we handle it?
Gossip is speaking against someone that you would never say to their face. (Speaking negatively against someone and running their reputation.) It has an inverse relationship to flattery.
Flattery- Saying something to someone that you would never say behind their back. It’s telling someone nice things that aren’t true.
What are some implications of Gossip?
- At the core of Gossip is a sense to lift yourself up and put someone else down. We feel a sense of superiority over another person.
- Sows distrust among people
- Harms our spiritual witness and faith. How can someone trust you with the Word of God and what He says when you are gossiping all the time?
- Destroys your integrity- Gossips are perceived as having worse characters. If someone gossips about others, they are likely gossiping about you.
- Harms or ends friendships
- Ruins reputations
From Midwestern Seminary:
- Gossip is a sly and sneaky sin that can destroy the unity of a church.
- Gossip points to self importance; ministry and service point to the importance of others.
- There is never a time when gossip helps or builds up.
- Once gossip is out about someone, it’s hard to correct it if it’s false.
- Gossip not only hurts the reputation of the subject, but of those who pass it on as well.
- If someone gossips about someone to you, they’d likely gossip about you to someone else.
- Gossip is a very evil and destructive force within the church.
- Churches should have an environment of trust that does not allow for gossip.
- Every church covenant should address gossip.
Gossip has the power to damage careers, ministry, and families. How can we respond in a Godly with Gossip?
Think. Are you part of the problem or solution? If not it’s gossip. Are you listening to a gossiper? That’s a form of gossip because you are saying you are ok with the gossip. That you have an attentive ear to what they are saying. Shut it down.
Play the role of advocate- stick up for the defenseless person in the conversation- the person not in the room. Say something good about them or like we don’t have all the facts.
What is our typical response when someone hurts or offends us? We tell 10 friends and gossip about them, ruining their reputation. I think the correct response is to solve the problem with that particular person instead of damaging their reputation. If we can’t still work it out, go to the elders.
Talking about someone really has two options. We can say words that are life giving or life depleting. We can begin to see Gossip as facts when they are actually only rumors. We can look at a person through the lens of the gossip or through the lens of scripture. We can start assuming things about people including their motivations for everything they do. It’s not healthy and it’s never edifying.
How do you respond to the person being gossiped about?
Maybe you see this person in real life. There are rumors going around. We need to love this person. I think true love starts with the mind. When you engage in conversations with this person, what are you thinking? Are you thinking about the gossip or just trying to love this person genuinely? Are you maintaining eye contact and expressing body language that suggests genuine interest in this person or are you being cold and disregarding your brother? Do you look down on this person? What is your motivation for engaging with this person? Yes, we need to have unity in the church but that isn’t the ultimate motivation. The motivation is a genuine love for beleivers and unbelievers. Its about forming love into our character as a pattern of life because of the Gospel. Its about sanctification and setting an example for others to follow. We have a responsibility to love others well through our thoughts, words, and deeds. We have a responsibility to care about the unity of the church. Lets get back to treating gossip as a serious sin and love as an essential responsibility.