A few years ago, a sister in my local Church was bereaved so I decided to pay her a condolence visit. During the almost one hour I spent in her house, she had given me very personal details of the lives of at least four members of the Church. I indulged her innocently; it wasn’t until I got back home and was reliving my day to my husband that I realized that I had actively participated in gossip. This realization came with guilt and repentance. Most people love to tell stories and when the subject of the story is a person who hasn’t given their consent or is not present to defend themselves, then the story has become a gossip. The stories could even be told with good intentions or aim to tarnish the image of another person; they may be true or untrue but the fact remains that it is GOSSIP. Small talks about people may arise out of a genuine concern for the person’s welfare or spiritual growth and in as much as these conversations may be necessary in the interest of the subject, we must be very careful not to allow these small talks lead to gossip as there is just a very thin line between the two.
It is also important to note that modern-day society conditions us to believe that gossip is harmless with all the gossip shows on TV, gossip blogs and trending juicy gist online. People get entertained from hearing malicious and sensational things about others. It is important for us to understand the mind of God concerning this and separate ourselves from the world.
Gossip is such an easy temptation to fall into as it can be committed even by the most senior ranking members of the Church. It’s one sin that easily shows our sinful nature as humans. There is no doubting the fact that God hates the sin called Gossip (Romans 1:28-29). Also, God instructed us not to engage in slander (Leviticus 19:16), and in Mathew 7:12 the Lord instructs us to do to others what we will have them do to us. We should constantly ask ourselves if we would want others to say stuff about us behind our backs. As bad as gossip sounds, it has however become one of the most common sins we would find amongst ourselves as Christians. However, as Agents of change, we must, through the help of the Holy Spirit, consciously STOP gossip.
Below are some ways to avoid gossip.
Sharing information about someone else must only be for the purpose of helping them solve a problem and should be shared only to those who can be of help. The moment the information we share about each other is not to solve a problem, we are gossiping. Be very mindful of what you say to people about others. If you do not have the authorization, do not share their stories.
Make it a habit to discuss God. I think as Christians we need to normalize chatting about events that occurred in the Bible outside the confines of the Church. We don’t have to depend on scheduled Bible study meetings to discuss the Bible. Talking about the messages in the Bible in a friendly and casual circle can really help us make good use of time we would have otherwise spent gossiping.
Glorifying God with our Tongue. Putting our tongues to good use by sharing the gospel, encouraging or comforting others, praising and worshiping God at every opportunity all glorify God. I love how James analyzed the power of the tongue in chapter 3 verses 1 to 10, describing the work of the tongue as a small fire that when lit can consume a great forest. From that Scripture, we can also see that great men control their tongues; in other words, good Christians don’t gossip. In that same Scripture, we see that it’s not okay for us to destroy others with the same tongue we use to glorify God. So let’s pre-occupy our tongues with things that glorify God.
Correct each other in love. Being receptive to corrections can really help us eliminate gossip among the brethren. Taking corrections without being offended and correcting others without being reproachful are very important among us. Leaders should also encourage feedback from members within a fellowship so as to curb bad blood from developing. Bottled up emotions and unexpressed hurts or disappointments can fuel gossip, but when channels of communication are left open it’s easy to openly address issues that may lead to gossip among us.
Replace Gossip with Edification. Ephesians 4:29 speaks specifically about speaking corruptibly about other people (Gossip). It says we need to replace that with speech that is uplifting to others and filled with grace. If you need to say something about someone to another, especially behind their backs, it should be something that encourages or edifies the person it is being said to; it should never be something that makes the hearer think less or bad of the absent party.
Ask the Holy Spirit for Help. It is important to pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to guard our tongues. When we ask, he does it. The anointing of God breaks strongholds that make our tongues loose and gives us the power to be disciplined and vigilant at all times.
If you have to whisper it, do not say it.