Column: The Bible condemns speaking and listening to gossip

Last time, we concluded that gossip not only hurts the person who gossips, but it also hurts those who listen to the gossip.

Proverbs 17:4A reminds us that “Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip…” When you choose to listen to gossip, in many ways, you promote what you permit.

If you are going to allow someone to gossip about your friend or about your family member or anyone else, you are promoting what they’re saying by your willingness to listen. The Bible condemns both speaking and listening to gossip.

Gossip hurts the person it is spoken about. Gossip also hurts the listener. And gossip hurts the person who is spreading the gossip.

Proverbs 25:9-10 puts it like this: “When you and someone else can’t get along, don’t gossip about it. Others will find out, and your reputation will then be ruined.” (The Contemporary English Version)

Have you ever heard someone gossip or tear another person down and think, “Someday, I want to be just like you?” Of course not! What do you think?

You have to wonder what they say about you when you are not around. And if you are wise, you will be careful about what you say around them because they will probably pass it on.

Gossip hurts the person it’s spoken about. Gossip hurts the listener, and gossip hurts the speaker. In short, gossip hurts everyone. So the goal should be fairly simple: Don’t gossip.

But that sounds so idealistic. How can we put an end to gossip? Here are two simple tools to help us avoid gossip.

First, guard your ears. You can stop gossip with one question. Simply ask the other person, “Why are you telling me this?” That question can cause the person to stop and take a mental inventory of why what they are saying needs to be spoken.

It is such a great question. But I realize that question may seem a little confrontational to some. You may be too nice to ask such a straightforward question.

If so, here is a different question with a little softer approach: Have you had a chance to talk to the person you are talking about? Most of the time, they haven’t talked to the person that is involved.

Then you can just say, “Maybe you need to talk to them about it.” Case closed. End of discussion. This is also consistent with the teaching Jesus gave on how to handle tension between believers in Matthew 18:15. More next time…

Steve Greene is the lead pastor of The Point in Seymour. Read his blog at or email him at steve@go Send comments to [email protected].

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