Gossip is rampant in our world. There are whole magazines, television shows, and other media devoted to it. Why is it so popular? I suppose because gossip takes the focus off of our own problems and challenges. When we can spread “news” about others and their struggles, feelings, conversations, etc., we somehow feel better about ourselves.
But Solomon warns us in verse 19, “A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.” Avoid them. Don’t be like them. We should seek to build each other up, not tear them down.
Do you think a person who gossips is being intentionally hurtful? Is sharing about someone else’s predicament helping anyone? Perhaps if it is used as a warning not to do something–but do you have to name names? That would be like me saying, “Don’t step out in front of a bus because you know that Betty broke a leg when a bus hit her.” You could easily say instead, “people have been known to get hit by a bus when they step out in front of a bus without looking.” The second example saves Betty from the embarrassment of her own inattentiveness.
Gossip leads to broken trust, hurt feelings, and messed up relationships. The tongue is a powerful weapon when used incorrectly or without thinking. The sad thing is that many people gossip and don’t realize they’re doing it. They aren’t paying attention to what’s coming out of their mouth. We can all do a better job at engaging our brain before we open our mouth.
Then there are those who thrive on gossip. We used to call them “busy bodies.” That is, “busy” gathering the dirt on everyone and sharing it openly. I always feel sorry for those people. They have nothing better to do than to hurt others. How they must be hurting themselves that they have to deflect the blame or attention to another human being. Stories can so easily get blown out of proportion by these individuals.
Not only does this verse speak directly of gossip and staying clear, there are other Bible passages that support this. It’s that important. It’s that much of a problem. Here are just a few. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” James 1:26 says, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” Proverbs 11:13 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”
Psalm 141:3 has a great solution. A prayer. “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Yes. We can ask God to guard our tongue and keep us from gossiping.
Let’s pray … Lord, forgive me when I open my mouth and say things that aren’t helpful or uplifting. Help me to guard my tongue and say nothing about other people. May my words be encouraging. Help me avoid others who are speaking out of turn about matters that don’t involve them. Or better yet, give me the words to say to them to help them realize what they are doing is not pleasing to you. I want to please you in all I say and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.