What you say about others matters.
I never used to think gossip was a big deal until I realized the things I’d been gossiping about were wrong. There was a time once when I heard many rumors—none of them good—about people in my life, and I believed it at the time. It suited the narrative in my head about those people, and believing those false things shaped how I thought about them. Because of the gossip I’d participated in, I began to strongly dislike them.
I was wrong.
A couple years later, I realized all the rumors I heard were not true, and I felt convicted about not only believing them but allowing others to gossip around me and furthering that gossip myself. God began dealing with me about this, making me increasingly more aware of the words I say, how I speak about people, the motives behind my words, and the impact of my words as well as the gossip others would spread around me.
I found that when I had engaged in gossip, I believed more negative thoughts about others. The list of people I disliked grew longer and longer. And it became clear that I hadn’t learned to really love others with a genuine, Christ-like love.
Then, when I made a conscious effort to stop gossiping, listening to gossip, and thinking negatively about those people, I found that the love of Christ grew in me toward them. All of a sudden, that negativity and spitefulness in my spirit was gone.
When you hear gossip, it needs to stop with you. When you hear gossip, you need to change the subject and leave the room. Do not participate. Maybe someone did something wrong, sure, but let God handle it. Rest assured, He will deal with the situation if a wrong was truly committed. He will take care of the problem if there really is a serious issue. But if it doesn’t directly concern you, there is no reason to talk to others about it.
“He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: Therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.”Proverbs 20:19 KJV
Gossip serves only to divide. It is self-serving. It feeds your own preconceived ideas about others. It isn’t productive. It hinders growth. Gossip comes from insecurities, idleness, narcissism, and emotional immaturity.
As we know, our feelings follow our thoughts. If we think (and then say) negative things about others, we’ll feel that way toward them. A 2011 study published in the journal Sciencexpress found that negative gossip actually changes the way we see people visually (you can read more about this here). However, if we only think good, kind, loving thoughts about others, then we’ll love them no matter what. And that’s a hard thing to do with people in certain circumstances.
I learned something about a person I know some time ago, something about what this person did, and it changed how I thought about them. They weren’t the person I thought I knew, but I was challenged to love them even still. I was challenged not to say spiteful, judgmental things about them—even though they did wrong.
Am I their judge? No. I had to let go of my animosity toward them and look at them through the love of Christ. Broken, messed up people hurt others, it’s true.
Gossip influences perception, and when you perceive people to be bad based off things you cannot confirm to be true, then you are declaring people as automatically guilty. Even if what you’re talking about IS true, sitting around and stirring the pot, repeating the same stories about the same situation keeps your mind in a repetitive loop.
Gossip is also used to destroy reputations and react aggressively. It needs the validation of others and demands that those who hear it agree with it. Gossip acts like a virus that jumps from one member of the body of Christ to another until it finds something to stick to, and then it spreads.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”Proverbs 18:21 KJV
As the above scripture says, death and life are in the power of the tongue. Gossip is destructive and antithetical to the lifestyle of a Christian.
Gossip loves company.
When you hear it, leave the room.