Dealing with Gossip

Dealing with Gossip

“Gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It forms one of the oldest and most common means of sharing (unproven) facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information transmitted. The term also carries implications that the news so transmitted (usually) has a personal or trivial nature, as opposed to normal conversation.”–Wikipedia

Slander” is a word that has an interesting origin. It comes from the word “Devil.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, slander means “malicious talk; to spread damaging information; to defame; to speak ill of.” Is it no wonder where slander derives its name? Slander is the work of the Devil, and those who slander are on his team. In fact the Bible says that Satan is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Are you an accuser of the brethren too? If so, even though it may not be your intention, you are being used as an agent of the Devil! According to Scripture, any Christian whose mouth is out of control does not have a right relationship with God. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. James 1:26

“Gossip” is derived from the idea of “whispering.” According to the same dictionary, “gossip” means “To indulge in idle talk or rumors about others; spreading of sensational stories.” Funk and Wagnals dictionary defines it as “Idle, or malicious talk about others.” As we can see, gossip is a close cousin to slander, and God’s Word places both in the same cupboard as murder and other wickedness — sins worthy of death.

Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. Pro 26:20

Have you been a gossiper? If so, confess this as sin and ask Christ to forgive you. “Repent” by turning in a new direction and surrendering your tongue to Christ and determine not to gossip or bad-mouth again (1 John 1:9, 1 Cor. 7:10). Learn to refrain from other people’s business. If you can’t say something good or encouraging about others, then remain quiet (Eph. 4:29). Never criticize another person, except to their own face and with intent to help. Criticism is never “constructive” unless it is expressed to the offender and only then if it is done in the right spirit.

A new church faces many challenges, but learning to handle matters of gossip is crucial. Gossip will drive away good people and it will hinder the work of God. No one is exempt from it. If your “friends” speak ill of others to you, stop them in their tracks—refuse to be a partaker of their sins (1 Tim 5:22). Sometimes people are accused of gossiping when in reality their facts are accurate. The person who is guilty of sin or compromise, accuses another person of gossip, slander, or spreading something, because they do not wish to admit their sin. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge. He that is first in his own cause seemeth just, but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.” Proverbs 18;13, 15, 17 It is extremely important that we gather all the data thoroughly before giving advice or making decisions about what we hear.

Young preachers who wish to take a stand for righteousness and not compromise their life and ministry should not worry about defending themselves all the time. Turn the matter over to God, but also remember you will stand before God for your convictions and where you stand with and for the Word of God. So what can a young pastor do to stop a talebearer? You must teach your people the proper attitude toward this terrible sin.

1. Avoid association with persons who gossip (Prov. 20:19).

2. Expose works of darkness by reporting gossip to the pastor that he may confront and offer correction. Gossip should be treated as any other vile sin (Eph. 5:11).

3. Ask yourself the question, Am I a part of the problem or a part of the solution? If not, you don’t need to hear the information.

4. Ask the accuser if you can go directly to the person of whom is being spoken and use their name so that the problem can be corrected.

5. Don’t believe everything you hear. Members may come to the preacher with information which accuses others that may or may not be true. Go to the accused person first to hear their side of the story.

6. We must make certain our facts are accurate.

7. We must be certain our motives are pure.

8. Periodically preach on the destructive nature of gossip

9. Build a strong coalition of church leaders who are loyal to you and will help maintain the integrity of the church.

10. Become proactive. Constantly be upbeat of others accomplishments and speak highly of the unity of the church.

11. If necessary, exercise church discipline when a person refuses to head godly warnings.

12. The preacher and his wife must both learn to keep every confidence private.

13. Most who gossip are reluctant to admit to gossip, therefore it is necessary for the preacher and church leaders to hold the standard high and refuse to allow gossip in the church.

Written by Jim Townsley

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