Casual or scandalous talk about another person. These uncomplimentary comments include criticism, false reports, rumours and exaggerations and are malicious in nature, accentuating the negative aspects of an absent third party’s character or actions. Gossip can even be disguised as ‘items’ for prayer. Gossip springs from jealousy, pride and selfishness, and is expressed because of a lack of self-control. Being a busy-body and gossiping is listed with other ungodly activities that are characteristic of those who are not walking in God's ways (Rom 1:28-32).
It is passing on questionable information and twisted facts when you are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution. Often the ‘news’ is altered or elaborated as it is passed on and can be character assassination, showing a lack of respect for others (2 Thes 3:11,12; 1 Tim 5:13). We are not to spread false reports against a neighbour for it stirs up discord (Ex 20:16, 23:1; Prov 6:16,19).
If someone is starting to share gossip with you, stop them and clarify with them, ‘what is your reason for wanting to tell me – is it true? What was your source? Have you gone to the person concerned? Can I quote you?’ If people gossip to you about others, they will also spread your morsels of information to others! We are to confess our faults, not spread those of another (Jas 5:16)! Agreeing with gossip is degrading the person against whom it is spoken.
Don’t say what you wouldn’t like said about you
does it portray of my character? What is the motivation for uncharitable rumours and slurs about a person’s character (Ps 15:3)? Remember we must give account for every idle word we speak (Mt 12:36). The Bible’s advice is, “Avoid godless chatter, because they who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly” (1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:16). “A person who lacks judgement puts down their neighbour, but a person of understanding holds their tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Prov 11:12,13). It is “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” be it good or bad – with our words showing what is inside, hence we are exhorted to “Get rid of…every form of malice” (Mt 12:34,35; Eph 4:31). The golden rule of life can be stated as not doing to others what we don’t want done to us (Lk 6:31).