Column: Want to avoid gossip? Guard ears and close mouth

Last time, I shared the first of two simple tools to help us avoid gossip.

First, we must guard our ears. You can typically stop gossip with one question: Why are you telling me this?

That question generates some healthy self-evaluation. The softer approach to this question might be to ask, “Have you had a chance to talk to the person about this?”

Even though guarding our ears is a great tool to put an end to gossip, sometimes, people still go on with their gossip. In those cases, you may have to distance yourself from the relationship or maybe sever the relationship altogether.

This is consistent with a Biblical principle found in Proverbs 20:19: “A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.”

That is very simple, very clear instruction from the book of Proverbs. If you want to avoid gossip, guard your ears.

A second effective tool to end all gossip is to close our mouth. That sounds so simple. It is certainly effective. Unfortunately, it is not always easy. Proverbs 21:23 says, “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.”

Here is a great guiding principle: Just ask yourself, “Would I want someone sharing this about me if I was not around?” Again, we’re just applying another principle that Jesus taught: “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” That is the Golden Rule.

It is easy to see how following this principle could help us put an end to gossip. It really is as simple as guarding our ears and closing our mouths.

Over the past few weeks, we have talked about some of the ways our mouths get us in trouble. Maybe the problem isn’t just with our mouth. Perhaps the problem is with our heart. We are broken people.

Jesus said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” — (Luke 6:45)

When God gets ahold of my heart, he also gets ahold of my mouth. That is when I can move away from complaining, criticizing, lying and gossiping to speaking truth and speaking life.

That is when my words can begin to emulate those of my savior. And in that transformation, our mouths, our marriages, our families and our lives will be transformed, too.

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

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