It’s both a verb and a noun. We’ve certainly all heard it, and perhaps we’ve all done it. Maybe we’ve even been the butt of it.
“It” is gossip – and it’s destructive to a church. Here’s why:
- It’s evil. How else would you describe an act that’s so often included among lists of sinful acts in scripture (Rom 1:29, 2 Cor 12:20, 1 Tim 5:13)? In fact, “gossip” is sometimes included as a marker of lostness – not Christianity.
- It’s idolatrous. Gossips love having information, even if it’s wrong and harmful. They even get angry if others have information they don’t have. Having “the dirt” becomes their god – and that’s idolatry.
- It’s self-centered. Those who gossip put themselves in the middle of everything. And, if they’re not in the middle, they talk about those who are so they draw attention back to themselves.
- It’s divisive. Talking about other people behind their backs never promotes unity, especially when the conversations take place in the back room or the parking lot.
- It’s often deceptive. Sometimes the “reported” information is cloaked in a prayer request (“now I don’t want to spread rumors, but we need to pray for _________ because ________”). That’s gossip, and it’s a lie to call it anything else.
- It harms reputations. It takes only one rumor to harm a brother or sister, and it’s tough to recover once the rumor’s out. We only weaken the family of God through gossip.
- It destroys trust. Here’s where gossips are often so focused on spreading their news that they miss their own foolishness. Gossips may be trying to hurt others, but what they prove is only that they themselves are completely untrustworthy.
- It indicates hypocrisy in the church. James puts it this way: the tongue is a “world of unrighteousness” (3:6), a “restless evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8). When the same tongue blesses God and curses others—including through gossip—hypocrisy is in the room (3:10-12).
- It risks God’s judgment. Jesus told us that we’ll answer for every word we say (Matthew 12:36-37). Gossips who continue in their pattern (and most gossips do) are inviting judgment – and judgment on one member affects the entire church.
So, what do we do? If you’re a gossip, stop talking. If you like to hear gossip, you’re also guilty. Stop listening. And, if gossips continue to talk and create turmoil, it’s only loving to confront them and call them to repentance. To do anything less is to give the enemy a foothold in your church.
What are your thoughts?