(AND HOW THESE DIFFER FROM LYING)
SOME OLD TESTAMENT VERSES
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 1.Haughty eyes, 2. a lying tongue, And 3. hands that shed innocent blood, 4. A heart that devises wicked plans, 5. Feet that run rapidly to evil, 6. A false witness who utters lies, And 7. one who spreads strife among brothers. (Notice that the one who spreads strife is different than a false witness who is a liar.The following verses will reveal how such things as GOSSIP and SLANDER "spread strife among brothers." )
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions. (Forgiven transgressions are to be covered.)
Proverbs 11:12-13 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. (The talebearer reveals secrets, not lies; the trustworthy person conceals the matter.)
Proverbs 12:16, 23 A fool’s anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor. A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims folly. (A prudent man conceals dishonor and knowledge.)
Proverbs 13:3 The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Proverbs 16:27-28 A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are like scorching fire. A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends. (A slanderer is worthless and perverse--spreading strife.)
Proverbs 17:9 He who conceals a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. (Seek love, not strife.)
Proverbs 19:11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression. (A man’s discretion is honored when he graciously overlooks a transgression.)
Proverbs 19:28 A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice, And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity. (The men who charged the woman “caught” in adultery, John 8:1-11.)
Proverbs 20:19 He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip. (A slanderer is a gossip, not a liar; he wrongfully exposes hidden truth.)
Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. (Here, and at the Judgment Seat.)
Proverbs 25:9-10, 23 Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another,Or he who hears it will reproach you, And the evil report about you will not pass away. The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance. (Backbiting is revealing the secrets of another, causing strife.)
Proverbs 26:20-28 For lack of wood
the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention
21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
23 Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross Are burning lips and a wicked heart.
24 He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart.
25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart.
26 Though his hatred covers itself with guile, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. (The whisperer is not necessarily a liar, except about himself, vs. 24-26.)
SOME NEW TESTAMENT VERSES
Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Here Jesus shows, as in the Old Testament, that slander is different than lying.)
Romans 1:29-30 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips[whisperers], slanderers[speaks against], haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, (Again, the Holy Spirit , through the apostle Paul, shows that deceit differs from gossip or slander.)
2 Corinthians 12:20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders [speak against], gossip [whisperer], arrogance, disturbances; (Paul was concerned that the saints were involved in these sins.)
1 Timothy 5:13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips [whisperers] and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. (The gossips were not lying, but talking about things that were not proper to even mention.)
WHAT IS GOSSIP?
The above verses teach that GOSSIPS, SLANDERERS,WHISPERERS, etc., are words used to describe those who spread true information about a person, but the information concerns "things not proper to mention." We saw that these "things" could include "a transgression," "evil," "dishonor," "a matter," the "secrets of another," or "knowledge," and generally focus in on the past sins, mistakes, and failures of that person.
The arrogant and unforgiving attitude of our sin nature makes us ALL susceptible to getting involved in this abominable sin of gossip. In our selfishness, we feel better about ourselves when we can point to another person's failures.We saw that those that practice the sin of gossip are referred to as "worthless, perverse, wicked, hateful, fools."
WHAT TO DO ABOUT GOSSIP?
The Bible makes it very clear that just because we may have some true information, we do not have the right to share that information, especially when that information is damaging to an individual. Even when a Christian is in sin, it is to be kept quiet, private, and should be dealt with on a person-to-person basis, as follows:
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens
you, you have won your brother.
You go to your brother "in private." If "you have won your brother," the story stops there! If he continues in sin, then you go back with no more than two brothers, as follows:
Matthew 18:16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that
by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.
If you win your brother with two more witnesses, the story stops there. If he won't listen, proceed as follows::
Matthew 18:17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses
listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
If your brother is won by the church, THE STORY STOPS THERE! If he continues in sin, he is to be put out of the church, and yes, you can tell others to perhaps warn them. But telling everyone about a sinning brother could be very damaging to the cause of Christ and the gospel. Does it really do any good to spread other people's failures when we all fail the Lord so many times? Remember, GOSSIP sows strife among the brothers, it's an ABOMINATION!
If someone comes to you and seems to be "GOSSIPING," (slandering another person), stop them immediately! Ask them if they have talked to the person that they seem to be gossiping about. Have they confronted this person about their sin? Has this person gone through church discipline? Is the person still practicing the sin? If the sin or problem has been dealt with, then the person "gossiping" should be confronted for sinning against you and against the person they are talking about. They need to apologize to you and the person they have slandered. You might even say to this person, "Why not tell me about some of your own failures instead of another person's failures. Will my knowing about another person's failures make my Christian walk any better?" "Will this information edify me?" Meditate on the following verses:
Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.