Three Tips for Stopping GossipJohn Allan
Dictionary.com defines gossip as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” New Testament teaching about how we should use our tongue shows that gossip is not appropriate for Christians (1 Timothy 5:13, Colossians 3:8, Ephesians 4:29).
We should not be fooled into thinking that gossip is something that only one gender participates in. The truth is: many men gossip too!
Gossip can damage a congregation and thus hurt the influence of the Church of Christ in the community. On an individual level, it can hurt your reputation and influence. Let us consider three things we can do to stop gossip.
1. Don’t Start It!
The New Testament urges us to put of “filthy language” (Colossians 3:8) and to “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29; NKJV)
These warnings would not be limited to gossip, but would certainly include it.
We should refuse to use our tongue in ways displeasing to God. We should think carefully about every word we say. Jesus warned: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36; NKJV)
If we can remember that we will have to give account of every word we say it will help us use our tongue properly.
2. Don’t Spread It
We can choose the words that we say, but we cannot stop everybody else from speaking. This means that even if we do not start gossip, somebody near us might. If somebody shares gossip with us we should choose to leave it alone instead of spreading it to others. Instead of participating in somebody else’s sin (consider the principle in 2 John 11 and Ephesians 5:7) we should hold our tongue and refuse to help the gossip spread.
Try to use love and wisdom to stop gossip instead of spreading hearsay and potentially harmful information. “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” (Proverbs 11:13; NKJV) “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Proverbs 17:9; NKJV).
If your companions come to realize that you are not going to participate in gossip, they will likely stop gossiping to you eventually.
3. Don’t Speculate
Gossip spreads rapidly because people would rather speculate than search. It is a lot easier to say “Did you hear about…” than to verify information. It is much easier to spread gossip than to stop it because spreading it is incredibly easy.
Instead of speculating about somebody, get the information from the source. Have you heard a rumor floating around about a brother or sister? Do not repeat the matter, ask them about it and see if it is true. This does not mean we can never use reliable sources, but it does mean that instead of relying on speculation as if it were fact we need to establish what the facts are.
Not surprisingly, this approach is consistent with what Jesus taught for addressing somebody who sins against you (Matthew 18:15-17). Instead of idly speculating, go to the source and establish the facts. We should be more interested in having our facts straight than in having an easy conversation.
- Gossip can ruin the happiness and harmony of a congregation, and we need to stay on guard against it.
- Gossip can ruin your example as a Christian and keep your light from shining in the world as it ought.
- Let us develop the reputation of being people who speak truth, speak to edify, and speak with love (Ephesians 4:29-32).
- Use your words wisely and well.