Gossip Affects Your Spiritual Waistline

Chris —  June 24, 2009 — 15 Comments

There for a while I was on a kick lately of eating chocolate toffee almond nuggets: creamy and sweet.

Unfortunately, when I ate those choice chocolates, I hadn’t seen the last of them. After they have tasted great, they show up just above my belt. As good as they are, they are not worth the calories. When I eat a chocolate, I give it a free pass to head for my stomach and out into my body.

That says, Proverbs is how gossip is.

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts (Proverbs 18:8).”

So, important is this Proverb, that it is repeated verbatim later in Proverbs 26:22.

Bits of gossip are like chocolate nuggets: smooth and creamy, they melt in your mouth: it tastes good to be in the loop; it is sweet to hear someone else notice the same weaknesses in another that have frustrated you; it feels spiritual to ask for prayer – – gossip and grumbling and complaining are a tempting treat.

But, remember this. As sweet as those gossip nuggets may taste, snacking on them is not the end. Words of gossip accumulate on our spiritual waistlines. They shape the inmost part of our being. Gossip muddies our windshields so that everything looks dirty.

The next time you are tempted to take the tinfoil off a piece of gossip and pop it in your mouth. Think again. Words of gossip go down to our innermost being.

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15 responses to Gossip Affects Your Spiritual Waistline

  1. Hey Chris,

    I was wondering if you have a good biblical definition of gossip. Sometimes I don’t know whether something is news or if it is gossip. Could you help me out here?

  2. Nick, it’s such a good question. My first thought is that you are a guy who is attempting to think biblically. And, that is 80% of the battle.

    Of course, it is a matter of discernment. So, as we grow in wisdom we will be able to spot gossip. It’s like the old Supreme Court line about pornography, something to the effect of, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.”

    Having said that, several questions could be asked: (1) Does it betray a confidence? 20:19 (2) Does it need to be said to glorify God and build relationships? (3) Is Matthew 18:15-17 being violated? In other words, should someone either be confronted or should the matter just be let go (Prov 19:11, 17:14). (4) Is the person who is hearing the information part of the solution? Often talking to a pastor is necessary. But, talking to someone who isn’t a leader in the church isn’t.

    Sometimes Proverbs calls it “whispering” (ESV) – – Is it “whispering”, and I’m thinking about the way it is said?

    Sloppy answer on my part. I’m talking around it. But, I think it’s worth doing. Just you asking helped sharpen my thinking.

    Gossip: the unnecessary spread of information (often sensational) when that information may damage another or the cause of Christ or help a party avoid confrontation that should take place.

    Nick — can you tweak that and make it better?

  3. Hey Chris,

    Your answer was extremely helpful. Would you mind if I posted it on my blog? I don’t have much to add to what you said except that I guess a good test to ask ourselves before we share information comes from Mark 12.30-31: And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” If we ask ourselves “Am I loving God?” and then “Am I loving my neighbor?” it might cause us to think twice before sharing information about that neighbor.

  4. No problem. That would be great. And, trust me. I am not being magnanimous when I say this. Your answer is a better place to begin. If I was going to re-write now, I would begin with your fundamental criteria as a lead, then amplify with some of the specifics I gave.

    Would you send me a link when you get yours up? Either put in a comment, or e-mail me at chris (at) theredbrickchurch.org

    Thanks.

  5. While not a definition, I’ve heard it said that to avoid gossip you should always speak to the person and never about the person. Or perhaps more simply, if it is not something you would say to the person being spoken of, it shouldn’t be said.

  6. Good stuff Michael. I ask myself that question sometimes, “How would I say this if the person was present?” Being consistent in communication is also a matter of integrity. It is far too easy to shade things one way or another depending on to whom we are speaking.

  7. Very good insight, post, and definition, Chris. Thanks!

  8. Thank you, gentlemen! I came across this quote a few weeks ago–“Before you speak ask yourself: Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary?” I have been trying to live by it ever since.

  9. Thanks Shawna. That’s very helpful. Seems like I’ve heard that before. But, maybe I just should have heard it!

  10. Gossip has a few other names… backbiting, talebearing, for two. It whenever you, Sir A, tell party B something about Mister C when that thing falls into any of Jesus’ categories where He commands I “go to him, PRIVATELY, and be restored”. Those categories are: I have offended a brother, a brother has offended me, or I find a brother in a fault. The scripture is also VERY clear in stating that gossip always requires two perpetrators: the one “bearing” the tale, and the one HEARING the tale. BOTH are equally culpable. And destructive.

    It is significant to note, as well, that on all the lists of serious sins.. you know, drunkenness, murder, thievery, adultery, homosexuality, gossip is right there with the others. It also is a disqualifier for holding office in the church. I wish we as followers of Jesus would take up arms against this sin as vigourously as we do against adultery, homosexuality, murder…. and ought to do against abortion but largely do not. It is as destructive to others, and as dishonouring to God as any of the others… HE says so.

    Best antidote to gossip is to adopt a strict policy of not hearing it, ever. When Sir A comes round talking about Mister C, THEN is the time to confront it. Ask him “have you brought this to party B already? Yes? Well, then, it should be restored, why are you telling ME? No? Why are you disobedient to Jesus’ clear commands in Matthew 18? Oh, so Sir A is “needing counsel” as to how to “deal with it” for Mister C’s benefit? Fine.. remind him of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 and send him right on over to Party B. He KNOWS what to do. And, whenever I require counsel to deal with a sticky situation, it is quite easy to go to elders, etc, tell the tale WITHOUT mentioning any names or specifics that would indicate anyone else. Trust me, its possible. And “prayer requests” on behalf of Party B’s “needs”… make them, but without names. And few enough details anyone can work out who is involved. If Mister C has been confronted already, and repented and seeks help to “renounce” his sin, let HIM be the one requesting the prayer. It will be part of his restoration.

    I have watched more churches, and more families, and more individuals, destroyed or taken out of action by the “innocuous” sin of gossip than all other sins combined. And it astounds me how “acceptible” this grevious sin is.

  11. Lewsta – – I think this is blogging at its best. A number of people have helped me tighten my understanding of gossip. Thanks for your excellent contribution. I need to print this entire thread out or at least electronically file it.

  12. Wow!!! This is excellent. I just posted a blog about a situation someone had gossiped – about me… I shall definitely book mark this page & share it. I hope you read my blog & comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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