Last month, Bethany asked us to wrestle with this question in one of her Summer Book Club updates:
What are some ordinary or accepted sins you struggle with?
Wrestle I did, and one answer kept pinning me to the mat—gossip. It’s an “acceptable” sin I struggle with often. While talking about other people may seem normal and acceptable to me, I look to God’s Word and see that it’s not acceptable to Him.
- Romans 1:29–30 lists gossip among some serious sins, including hating God and inventing evil. Gulp.
- Colossians 3:8 urges us to put such talk away.
- Matthew 12:36 warns us that a day is coming when we will have to give an account for every idle word we speak. Double gulp.
We don’t want to be gossip girls. We want to honor God with our words, right? The secret to changing our sin pattern is always the same. We identify the lies we’ve believed make our sin okay and replace them with God’s truth. Let’s do that together. Here are four lies we’ve believed about gossip.
Lie: Gossip Is Unavoidable
Part of the reason gossip feels like an acceptable sin is because we find ourselves doing it so often. It seems unavoidable, like we’re destined to fail to keep our mouths shut. But sin is never unavoidable (1 Cor. 10:13). With God’s help we can forge a new path. How exactly? I’m glad you asked.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word (Ps. 119:9).
It’s harder to fill the space with our own fruitless words when our mouths and hearts are filled with God’s Word.
We have a saying at our house for dealing with sibling squabbles that goes, “Sibling rivalry isn’t normal, it’s sinful.” The same logic applies to gossip. Gossip isn’t unavoidable; it’s sinful. We need God’s Word to reshape how we talk.
Gossip isn’t unavoidable; it’s sinful.
So I’m sending you on a Bible scavenger hunt. Spend some time this week dwelling on these verses. Ask God to use His Word to redirect your speech patterns.
Lie: It’s Not Gossip if It’s True
Certainly, we should avoid telling lies about others. That’s a no-brainer, right? But what if we have a piece of information that we know is true? We’ve done our fact-checking. Is sharing that still gossip? ‘Fraid that question leads to more questions than answers.
Question: Does this information build the other person up? Ephesians 4:29 instructs us to only say things that build others up (make them look good). If it’s true and it makes the other person look bad, don’t say it.
Question: Would I want this information spread about me? Jesus holds us to this standard, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matt. 7:12). If you wouldn’t want someone sharing information (even true information) you didn’t give them permission to share, don’t do it to others. It’s a tough standard. Ask God to help you stick to it.
Lie: It’s Not Gossip if I’m Asking for Prayer
Do you know when I’m most tempted to gossip? During prayer time. Face palm!
Somehow the prospect of prayer lowers my inhibitions and I share things about other people I otherwise would not. Sometimes, I genuinely want to rally the troops to pray for a need. More often, I want to be seen as in the know. But I don’t need to share all of the details to ask someone to pray. God already knows them, right? I’ve found it best to let others ask for prayer themselves. Instead of recruiting prayer support, I want to learn to use my time and energy to actually pray for the individuals I know have needs.
Let’s do that together right now. Who do you know who needs God’s intervention in their life? Take a moment and pray for God to move. He heard you. He loves to respond to the prayers of His people. You didn’t have to share the need with a single other human to grab His attention.
Lie: It’s Not Gossip if It’s on a Screen
God’s standards apply to every corner of our lives, including our virtual lives.
What is it about our screens that makes us say things we wouldn’t in person? Maybe our constant access to each other’s lives makes us feel like we have the freedom to talk about each other constantly? Yet God’s standards apply to every corner of our lives, including our virtual lives. This includes how we talk about celebrities, how we talk about the president, how we talk about people doing dumb things in YouTube videos, and certainly how we talk about our “friends” and “followers.”
Gossip is gossip. In person and online.
Set a Guard upon My Mouth
If you’re a girl who struggles with gossip, like me, let me encourage you to pray this prayer.
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! (Ps. 141:3).
Ask the Lord to help you see your gossip for what it really is, sin, and to keep you from justifying it. May His truth reshape us from gossip girls to truth-speakers, guarded by His Word!
PS: For some practical tips on how to handle it when people are gossiping about you, be sure to check out tomorrow’s post.