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Gossip
GOSSIP
 
I think God is letting me share a little bit with you about the problem of gossip because I'm no stranger to it. I have not only listened to gossip, I've also spread it, and I’ve been the victim of it. Regardless of our part in it, gossip is damaging to our souls and it's all equally sinful to the Lord.
 
Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

What Is Gossip?
When we become Christians, we give up the "biggies" like lying, stealing, drunkenness, cheating, drugs, and fornication. We start spending time with our new-found friends, talking about the Lord, our lives, and what's going on around us in general. Harmless stuff ... or so we think. But let's take a closer look. Many times these conversations are full of judgments, rumors, and hearsay ... all tucked neatly away behind a concerned Christian smile.

Gossip in Christian relationships often begins like this, "We really need to pray for so and so, they're having this terrible problem.” “Oh, really, what is it?” We discuss their problem and state our opinions; however, we usually don’t pray, we just “talk it through.”
 
We consider it crucial to listen to the latest tale about someone or some ministry. We justify it by thinking, "Well, it's important to keep up with what's happening. Besides, we need to know how to pray . . ." which again, we hardly ever do. In fact, if we would spend as much time on our knees talking to God as we do talking to others about it, we would really be quite the man or woman of God by now.

Think of all the times you have spoken behind people’s backs about their faults unnecessarily. This is slander or gossip. You need not lie to be guilty of slander. To speak truthfully about someone’s faults for no beneficial reason is unloving, slanderous, and plain old juicy gossip.
 
Did you know the Bible talks a lot about gossip? It's not just a "little sin" as some of us like to rationalize. Here is what God thinks about slander or gossip:
 
Lev 19:16 Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD.
 
1 Tim 5:13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.
 
Proverbs 10:18-21 He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.
 
Proverbs 16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
 
Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
 
Proverbs 26:18-22 Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I was only joking!" Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts.
 
For gossip to survive, it has to be repeated. Nevertheless, gossip affects us even if we don’t repeat it. Hearing it causes it to enter our heart, affecting how we treat someone whom is the subject of gossip. It separates close relationships. The person who is unknowingly the subject of gossip wonders why we are not as close as we once were. It also separates us from God and could be the reason we don’t feel as close to God as we once did.
 
Ps 101:4-6 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil. Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me.
 
Immediately after God said that homosexuals and those who do not acknowledge Him and are given over to a depraved mind, He lists gossips together with those who are untrustworthy, unloving, unrighteous, full of envy, strife and deceit, murderers and haters of God. Then He says those who practice such things know they are worthy of death, but it doesn't stop them from participating or encouraging others to do the same.
 
 Rom 1:28-32 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
 
God gives all the people who commit these sins over to the consequences of their sin.

1 Cor 6:9-10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
 
Col 3:6-10 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
 
Many of us think, "Well, it's true ... so I can tell anyone I want to." Not so! Telling the truth for the wrong motive can be even more destructive than telling a lie. In fact, sharing anything about someone, when the act of sharing it is not part of the solution to that person's problem, is just pure gossip. It has no other purpose than to hurt someone or degrade them in other people’s eyes.
 
Therefore, if we notice a brother or sister is doing something wrong, do we ignore it and say nothing? What should we do?
 
Matt 18:15-17 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
 
If we are offended or see someone in sin, we are to go to that person and no one else! After all, what good does it do to tell someone else? What can they do about it? If we start running around talking about this "awful thing" we see in someone's life, and asking others if "they see it too," then we are causing the ones we tell to form judgments and ultimately to sin.
 
Instead, we can help that brother or sister if we go to them. We may be showing them a real blind spot that the Lord wants desperately to deal with. If he does not listen, then there are further steps to take. Be prepared for this, although it usually doesn't go past the first step. If it is not worth going through the entire process Jesus commands, then don’t start it. 
 
I have grown the most when someone has come to me in genuine love and concern over an inconsistency they see in my life. I am thankful that they love me enough to confront me with it and give me a chance to change.
 
Gal 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
 
We have no right to go to anyone except God and the offender, unless we are really at a loss as to what we should do. Then we need to go for counseling, not to our "most favorite person to talk to."
 
The Difference Between Counseling and Gossip
Much gossip and slander goes on under the guise of "getting counseling." There is nothing wrong with counseling if you are indeed talking to a counselor. A counselor is someone who is mature in the Lord, exhorts you to godliness and reconciliation, points out your sin in the situation, will not repeat the matter or be stumbled by it, and is seeking God's will - first and foremost - not yours.
 
I'm afraid this leaves out 95 percent of the people we usually run to with the latest problem. If we really need counseling, we should get it. But most of the time when we share with someone, we are not really seeking a solution. We just want a sympathetic ear to agree with our point of view. It seems we don't care how much division we bring, as long as we get people on "our side." We are too selfish to worry about the damage we are causing to those we tell or those we tell on.
 
Prov 6:16-19  There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
 
Just Listening
Many of us like to believe that "just listening" to gossip is not really as bad as spreading it. This is not so.
 
Prov 17:4 A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.
 
Well, why do we listen? Why are we so ready to hear gossip? Whatever the reason, we need to repent of it. The next time someone starts to share gossip with us, we should gently but firmly say, "I'm sorry, but you're telling me something I really don't think I should be listening to. You need to take this to the Lord, and those involved... not me."
 
Another response could be, “Have you talked to this person about it? Would you like me to tell them what you are saying? If not, then don’t tell me about it until you have discussed it with them.”
 
A few exhortations like these will stop most gossips in their tracks. At least it will stop them from coming to you with their slander, and maybe give them something else to think about besides other people's business. The Bible warns us not to associate with gossips.
 
Prov 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
 
If a people shares confidential information with you and gossips about other people, you can be sure they will share your secrets and gossip about you to other people. They are not your friends. Therefore, avoid them or share the gospel with them. Then, they will probably avoid you or you will win them to the Lord.
A Mark Of Maturity
With every word we speak we are making a choice. We are either choosing to bless God or grieve Him by rebelling against His Word.
 
Eph 4:29 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.
 
 Again, we need take seriously God's command for us to control our tongue. This is one of the true marks of a mature man or woman of God.
 
James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
 
As we learned last week, man cannot control his tongue, but the Holy Spirit can. Therefore, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit and give Him control at all times. Then we will have grace to speak good things from our heart and we will enjoy an intimate fellowship with God again.
 
Ps 15:1-3 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman.
 
What should we do if we have been the target of gossip?
Ps 119:23 Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.
 
In spite of the pain we feel from being the subject of gossip, don’t think about it, stew about it, and don’t plot revenge. Meditate on the Word of God and keep your eyes on Jesus. Jesus was slandered and told us to expect the same treatment.
 
Matt 5:11-12  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 
1 Pet 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
 
Gossip and slander are Satan's tools. He knows that if he can get us to divide and fight each other, we will be far too busy to unite and fight him! We need to stop and pray before we speak, and purpose in our hearts to never receive or repeat gossip again. We can, by the grace of God, stop gossiping and speak beneficial words the Holy Spirit gives us.
 
After all, gossip often proves false after a period of time. It is not worth knowing.
 
The time is coming when Satan, the father of lies, gossip, slander, and all false accusations will be judged. We don’t want to be found in his camp when Jesus returns.
 
Rev 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
Let’s repent of this evil. There may be people we need to apologize to and bitterness that needs to be confessed and healed. Go to God first and get your heart right. He will give you the grace to apologize and to be reconciled to others.
 
If you need to make Jesus your Lord and Savior and receive forgiveness for your sins, come forward to confess Jesus as the Christ, repent of your sin, die to your old life in baptism, and receive a new life by the Holy Spirit. Without Jesus as your Savior and His Spirit abiding in you, you have no power over your tongue, sin, gossip, or the devil.