Guarding Against Gossip (Part 1). Gossip is the Devil’s Speech dia,boloj diabolos : slanderous, accusing falsely
1. defamation; calumny: rumors full of slander.
2. a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report: a slander against his good name.
3. Law . defamation by oral utterance rather than by writing, pictures, etc.
4. to utter slander against; defame.
5. to utter or circulate slander.
1. idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others: the endless gossip about Hollywood stars.
2. light, familiar talk or writing.
3. Also, gos·sip·er, gos·sip·per. a person given to tattling or idle talk.
4. Chiefly British Dialect . a godparent.
5. Archaic . a friend, esp. a woman.
6. to talk idly, esp. about the affairs of others; go about tattling.
7. Chiefly British Dialect . to stand godparent to.
8. Archaic . to repeat like a gossip.
My name is gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted, the more I am believed.
I flourish at every level of society.
My victims are helpless.
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible.
The harder you try, the more elusive I become.
I am nobody's friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and wreck marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache, and indigestion.
I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry on their pillows.
Even my name hisses. I am called gossip, party gossip,
Telephone gossip, and don't forget CHURCH gossip.
I make headlines and headaches.
Before you repeat a story, ask yourself, is it true? Is it fair? Is it necessary?
If not, please be quiet.
1. Ragal - "One who goes about maliciously as a slanderer, one who speaks maliciously about another.“ (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). Psalm 15:1-3
2.Sether - "A secret slanderer, or hidden gossip, one of a sly tongue."
1. Dibbah - "Whispering, defamation, evil report, to spread a rumor,
to slander." Prov. 10:18
2. Lashan - "To use the tongue boldly (in an evil sense); hence, to
slander, to backbite." Psalm 101:5
1. Nirgan - "Wrong speech (evil secret) hence; a whisperer, a backbiter, a
gossiper." Prov. 18:8
2. Rakil - "A slanderer, defamer, detractor." Lev. 19:16; Prov. 11:13; 20:19
1. The Hebrew word "Nirgan" which means "a backbiter, a talebearer, a gossiper."
2. Thus, in the King James Version there are four English words translated from six Hebrew
Leviticus 19:16-18 16 'You shall not go about as a slandereramong your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. 17 'You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
II. The righteous are identified by their pure speech (one of the ways they fear the Lord)
III. Some of the greatest hurt/pain in life is inflicted by evil tone/words
IV. Gossip is hard to stop – once it gets going it has a life of its own
V. We often hurt the greatest, the people we lost the most (family)
VI. We are to not be close friends with gossipers – be holy (separate)
VII. Remember that the Lord is a perfect judge and that perfect justice is coming – evil men with evil mouths will be judged
IX. Gossiping is the biggest way to endanger or ruin your friendships
X. Resolve to have nothing to do with gossip or slander – speak up against it
(McHenry’s Quips, Quotes, and other Notes – p. 117)
New Testament Passages concerning gossip and slander
(Our Daily Bread, June 23, 1994)
1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.2. The type of information shared. Gossipers 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. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.
A. Whisperer1. psithurismos (psithurismos) - "Lit., to speak into one's ear (in an evil sense); hence, secret slander, backbiting." (Thayer's and Vine's Lexicons). Used only in 2 Cor. 12:20; Rom. 1:29-30
B. Backbite1. katalalos (katalalos) - "To slander, to speak evil of, to backbite; synonymous to whisperer, only more open." Again, used only in 2 Cor. 12:20; Rom. 1:29-30.
C. Busybody1. periergazomia (periergazomia) - "Lit., to be working round about, instead of at one's own business (peri, "around," ergazomia "working"); signifies, to take more pains than enough about a thing, to waste one's labor, to be meddling with or bustling about other people's matters." 2 Thess. 3:11; 1 Tim. 5:11-15
D. Meddler1. allotrioepiskapos (allotrioepiskapos) - "Lit., another's overseer; an overseer of the business belonging to another, a busybody." 1 Pet. 4:15 - "Meddler in other men's matters" all from this one word.
E. Prating1. phluareo (phluareo) - "To bring unjustified charges against, malicious gossip, unfounded rumors." 3 John 10
F. Tattler1. phluaros (phluaros) - "The adjective of phluareo (prating), and means: to prat against another; to raise false accusations; to gossip about another." 1 Tim. 5:13
Matthew 15:18-20 18 "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.20 "These are the things which defile the man; (Mark 7:22)
II. Gossip/slander are characteristic/identifiers of unbelievers
III. We should respond and react to others evil speech the way Jesus did
IV. Gossip and slander must be repented of and reconciliation sought after
V. Gossip and slander must be continually guarded against and put off/thrown off
One reason so many Christians suffer from spiritual malnutrition is that they live on a diet of junk food, as far as building spiritual character is concerned. Peter is well aware of this and that’s why he says: “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking” (1 Pet. 2:1). The Greek word used for “laying aside” actually means to “strip off your clothes.” The same idea is expressed in Hebrews 12:1 where we are told to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” Peter talks about five specifics that we should strip out of our lives: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.
Malice was the general word for wickedness. In Peter’s day it meant “heathen evil”—the characteristic evil of the world surrounding the young Christian church. Peter doesn’t advise laying aside some of it; he demands all of it to go. Today’s Christians are no different than those in the first century. Many of us like to play at Christianity and keep worldly practices and values in our lives. But there is no place in the Christian’s life for the garbage of the world.
A young man once approached a great Bible teacher and said to him, “Sir, I’d give the world to know the Bible as you do.”
The teacher looked him in the eye and said: “And that’s exactly what it will cost you!” If we want to grow, if we want to develop to our full potential, then each of us has to look inside to recognize those worldly remnants and scraps that we are hanging on to, which are hampering growth and maturity.
All deceit also has to go, says Peter. At the root of deceit is impure motives; and this leads to conscious deception of others. But deceit always costs you in the long run, while honesty always pays.
This is a hard lesson to teach children. I tell my own children, “It’s really a lot more expensive to lie, because every time I catch you in a lie you are going to be punished much more severely than if you told me the truth.” I’ve had to prove this on occasion, and it’s always a hard lesson for everyone—for me to teach and for them to learn—but it’s worth it.
Hypocrisy is another attitude Christians should purge from their lives, just as people would abstain from junk food. Hypocrisy is a natural outgrowth of deceit. Non-Christians always like to point out that the church is full of hypocrites, and unfortunately they are right.
Christians sometimes reply to this charge by saying that the church—where people can hear the gospel and learn about the Bible—is the best place for hypocrites. But as Peter plainly shows us, we can’t be content with merely saying, “It’s good to be in church where we’re learning to deal with our hypocrisy, deceit, malice, and other problems.”
Never be content with keeping this garbage in your life. Strip it off! There is no place in the life of a sincere Christian for hypocrisy. If a Christian glibly excuses his hypocrisy, he is taking advantage of God’s grace and is a greater hypocrite.
Envy is a fourth attitude that must be purged from a Christian’s life. Reduced to its basic components, envy is simply self-centeredness. Envy is always the last attitude to die, because it only dies when the self dies. As most Christians know, the self is hard to kill.
How many churches have been wrecked, how many missionary organizations have been riddled with dissension, how many families have been destroyed, all by envy? In his letter, James joins Peter in warning Christians about the demonic influence of envy: “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:14–16).
Slander of every kind (evil speaking) is a fifth attitude that has to go. In a word, Peter is telling us, “Quit your gossiping.” Gossip just might be the most attractive sin for Christians. We all clatter concernedly over gossip; and we nod vigorously when the preacher condemns it from the pulpit. Yet on the way home, or even while walking to the car, after church has let out, we start gossiping. We are very clever, of course, to mask our gossip behind words such as: “I’m so concerned about Mary”; or “Can you fill me in a little, so I can pray about it?” Far too much gossip goes on under the guise of prayer.
It is worthwhile to note how all of these five items of “spiritual junk food” are all on one large menu. Each attitude seems to feed the other, just as they nourish the Christian who keeps them in his diet. The fruit of malice is very often deceit or guile; and deceit and guile lead to hypocrisy, which, in turn, produces the envy. Then the fruit of envy often leads to evil speaking—slanderous gossip. The trouble is, of course, like all junk food this garbage tastes good. We’ve acquired a real taste for these evil habits; and it’s hard to break them. What we need is to start feeding on something else to change our taste buds; and that’s what Peter talks about next.
VI. Saturation with Scripture/truth is one sure way to have increasing victory with our speech
VII. Women are especially prone/tempted to gossip and need to guard against their natural/fleshly instinct/desire
10. Will I help the one who is spreading the rumors by receiving what he is telling? (Prov. 26:23)
11. Do I want to be an accessory in the commission of a sin against another by receiving information which I should not be privy to? (1 Tim. 5:22, remember, "There are always two sides to every controversy.")
12. Will I feel better towards the one being talked about by hearing the things being spread by a gossiper?
13. Am I assisting in strengthening the character of one whom I allow to gossip about others?
14. Can I, in good conscience, say that I am a friend of one from whom I receive information about the wrong doing of another?
15. When I hear about the wrong doing of another, am I not obligated to go to that person? (Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1).
16. Do not I do much evil by, instead of going to that person, beginning to mention his wrong doing to others?
17. Am I not responsible for the unfaithfulness of others when they have been hardened through my spreading unfounded charges about them, or by listening to others who do it?
18. How many people have left active service to Christ because of unfounded charges and allegations made and received by others? (Prov. 18:19)
VIII. Gossip and slander will only get worse during the End Times
IX. Don’t be surprised when unbelievers slander and gossip about you – their father is the father of lies, the accuser/slander (devil)
X. It is possible not to gossip and slander because Jesus set for us an example for us to follow and enables us through the power of the Holy Spirit
XI. While it is possible not to sin with our speech – it is extremely hard and daily challenge/fight. Struggle well with God’s power as the hardest thing in the Christian life is to not justify your sin based on others sin and to not sin in response to others sin
One or more of these techniques may be used to destroy another’s reputation; even with the use of pious platitudes under the guise of love one may engage in talebearing which is malicious and destructive.
Gossip destroys the morale of the body. Leaders are tempted to become indecisive because of accusations. Members become discouraged and withdrawn from one another. Cliques are formed, unity is destroyed, and the work of the Lord is thereby hampered. Gossip can cause one to become hyper-sensitive to the opinions other people have about him. He becomes timid and unwilling to step out and do something because it may not meet with the approval of certain people in the congregation. In this way a gossip can cause a congregation to become dormant. People lose confidence in one who continually gossips. In the course of time, the talebearing of the gossip will eventually destroy his own reputation. A wise person will avoid a gossip because if he criticizes others in his presence, then he’ll certainly criticize him in the presence of others.Ultimately the result of gossip is damnation to the soul. In Romans 1:28-32 Paul said that “gossips [and] slanderers ... deserve death.” In James 4:11, after writing a chapter on the tongue, James said, “Do not slander one another.” In First Peter 2:1, Peter plainly demanded Christians to rid themselves of every kind of slander. Gossiping is placed in a list of sins right along with drunkenness in Titus 2:3. And Jesus said that the words we speak in this life will judge us in regards to our future (Matthew 12:37).
Don’t listen to gossip.When we listen to it, we increase the gossip’s sense of importance. I know this is difficult advice to follow, because it’s embarrassing to cut someone’s gossip off mid-stream. We need to be tactful, but straightforward. We could simply state that we have no interest in making the failures of others a topic for discussion and ask to change the subject. If we make the break clean, we won’t only strengthen ourselves, but we’ll also cause our friends to search their own consciences.Examine ourselves and confess to God and those we have sinned against.Are we absolutely sure of the facts? Do we know the context in which any given statement or action was made? Is the gossip real or imagined? Does it spring from a sin in someone or simply from a personal pet peeve? We need to deal with the feeling of criticism while it’s still on our minds by going to God in prayer before we talk about it to anyone else. Is there a beam in our own eyes? Do we become upset about the actions of someone else because they reflect our own personal weaknesses? What’s the best way to deal with this problem? Is there a scriptural way of dealing with it? Obviously, as mentioned in passing earlier, if we have a genuine, justifiable criticism of a person, we must take it to that person, not allowing others to deter you. Jesus said, “‘If your brother sins [against you], go and show him his fault just between the two of you. If he listens, you have won your brother’” (Matthew 18:15). Much of the destruction caused by gossip would be avoided if we would just follow this one command of our Lord. We should determine to speak only words which would build up the one we’re talking to: Paul wrote, “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” (Ephesians 4:29).
(Barbara Hatcher, Vital Speeches, March 1, 1987)