The other day, I had a friend relay to me a terrible story of how a former friend was now spreading hurtful rumors about him to their mutual acquaintances. The hurt in his voice and eyes was obvious. Gossip is a huge problem within the American culture and across the globe. In fact, gossip has been a problem for mankind since the beginning. We see Adam gossiping about Eve in the Garden to God: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Now I know some people think that because it’s true it isn’t gossip. That’s not correct. Gossip is defined as saying something about someone else that is meant to harm their reputation, call their character or motives into question, or generally degrade their status. If the situation is true, it only adds fuel to the situation….not that spreading false gossip is any better!
Why do we gossip? There are many reasons…too many to list. I’ll give just a few quick reasons and then we will move on to how to address the problem.
- Some spread rumors about other people because they themselves aren’t doing well. They spread gossip in order to make themselves feel better by tearing the other person down: “At least we aren’t as bad off as so and so…”
- Gossip is also commonly employed by people who feel a need to manipulate others. They do it to accomplish their goals or ends: “Well you really can’t take advice from her, she struggles with…”
- Other employ gossip to justify their own misdeeds: “well you think that’s bad, let me tell you about what HE did…”
- Lastly, gossip can be used to intentionally harm another person. Rumors can be spread to hurt a former boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, friend…etc.
How then do we combat this scourge? We must remember to obey the commandments of Matthew 18 at all times: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Confronting wrongs or hurts must be done in private with the minimum amount of people to make it a safe situation. If you think it will be too awkward, just think about how much more awkward it will be if they find out you have been talking about them behind their back!
As Christians, we only bring up failures in an effort to help people grow in their walk with Christ. We shine a light on sin that God might change them. As Paul told the church in Ephesus: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Gossip is a constant battle that we all must wage in our own hearts regularly. If you want to learn more, come and speak with me in my office. I would love to answer your questions!
My Sermon on Sunday will come from Mark 10:35–45 specifically studying pride and its implications in the Christian life. Please read the section beginning on page 137 of your Mark For Everyone book.