I found several definitions for gossip:
- Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
- A rumor or report of an intimate nature.
- Conversations or reports about other people’s private lives that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true.
And it’s everywhere, isn’t it?
We call it entertainment when it’s about celebrities. We call it news if it’s about our political opponents. We call it social media … when it’s shared on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
At church we call it … sharing a “need for prayer.”
But whatever is said or wherever it’s shared … gossip hurts.
If you’ve ever been the victim of hearsay or slander, if you’ve experienced it firsthand, you know gossip hurts.
There are lots of reasons people share gossip…
- To feel superior.
- To get attention.
- To gain control or power.
- To get revenge or because of jealousy.
- To bring attention to themselves.
- To get someone’s approval.
- Or just because they’re. bored or unhappy.
The bottom line is … gossip hurts and it hurts everyone involved.
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.Proverbs 16:28
If you’re looking for happiness – avoid gossip!
10 Things to Remember to Avoid the Hurts of Gossip
1. Remember – gossip is a sin.
Paul listed gossip alongside murder, lies, selfish ambition and haters of God. It seems harsh but if we think about why people gossip and recognize the too-often devastating consequences or if we’ve been the victim of someone else’s gossip … it’s easy to remember that gossip is sin.
Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful.Romans 1:29–30a
2. Remember – everyone has a right to privacy.
You don’t want everyone to know everything about you! I think avoiding gossip is a great application of the Golden Rule.
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”Matthew 7:12
3. Remember – You can’t repeat what you don’t know.
“Gossip needn’t be false to be evil — there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.” ~Frank A. Clark
Be the person who asks to not know the gossip that’s being shared. You need to…
4. Remember – Be prepared.
Go into every conversation ready to end gossip with potential subject-changers. Most people love to talk about themselves; so, ask a question to change the focus from the person being talked to the people in the room.
“I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody.” ~Benjamin Franklin
5. Remember – Be loyal and kind.
Invite the gossiper to talk directly to the person they are concerned about. If you’re with a group, wait until you have a minute to talk to the gossiper privately and encourage them to talk directly to the person they’re concerned about.
Rather than doing something that could potentially hurt a relationship … they might actually be able to encourage and help.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.Proverbs 3:3
6. Remember – Be positive, encouraging, and loving.
Be known as the person who speaks well of everyone and in that way you can shine the light of God’s love.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.Ephesians 5:1–2
7. Remember – There is fallout from shared gossip.
You can’t control what others do with the things you tell them. Once gossip is shared, it’s out of your control and often spreads like a wildfire.
“We always feel the brunt of the blow dealt to us, but hardly ever do we feel the impact we have on others. Why is that?” ~Richelle E. Goodrich
8. Remember – To imagine yourself in the other person’s life.
You don’t know the whole story. You never know the whole story. So, before you listen to or share a small true or untrue segment of someone else’s story … stop for a minute and put yourself in their place. When you haven’t lived their life it’s impossible to understand their decisions. Offer them the same grace and mercy you would like them to give you.
All of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.1 Peter 3:8
9. Remember – Every bit of gossip can end with you.
Sometimes you can’t avoid hearing tidbits of gossip. The information is shared with you before you have time to breathe and walk away. But you are always able to pause and decide what you will do with gossip. So,
resolve that gossip will always end with you. Determine in advance to never speak negatively about anyone ever.
“How would your life be different if … You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.” ~Steve Maraboli
10. Remember – Prayers don’t need details.
God knows the need even when the people praying do not. It is possible to pray for each other publicly without revealing secrets or sharing personal problems.
So, pray like crazy. Pray for your friends who are hurting. Pray for the gossipers you know. Pray and ask for forgiveness when you’ve passed along something you should have kept to yourself.
Just pray! Ask God to help and strengthen you and ask Him to help and strengthen your friends.
“Notice, we never pray for folks we gossip about, and we never gossip about the folk for whom we pray! For prayer is a great deterrent.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
I think the following poem says it all.
My Name is Gossip ~Author Unknown
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 ruin marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.
I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses.
I AM CALLED GOSSIP.
And one more thing I believe will help…
Remember – Picture Jesus present at every conversation.
He is with you. He loves and cares about you. He loves and cares about the people you are with and He loves and cares about the people you’re discussing.
So, stop and ask yourself … #WWGGG – What would give God glory?
Remember that everyone you meet is someone for whom Christ died! Someone who is dearly loved by Him.
And then ask yourself … Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?
Then talk about something else.
Can you imagine if we all decided to do our best to avoid the hurts of gossip?
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