DES MOINES GOSPEL ASSEMBLY CHURCH - RESPONSE TO GOSSIP
Gossip is condemned as sin in the Bible. "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among Thy people." Leviticus 19:16. Gossips and backbiters have crippled leaders, armies, homes, and churches. "A whisperer separateth chief friends." Proverbs 16:28.
Gossip is negative and destructive. At its worst, it is outright slander, the spreading of lies to ruin someone's reputation. "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." Proverbs 18:8. At its best, it is digging up evil which, even if true, is not to be spread abroad. "He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends." Proverbs 17:9 "A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth a matter." Proverbs 11:13.
The Greek word for slander is derived from diabolos, which means "devil." Slander is devilish and diabolical. In Aramaic, slanderer means "one who eats anothers piecemeal." Slanderers are workers of iniquity. "Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? Who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord." Psalms 14:4.
Are gossipers aware of the many pointed warnings in the Bible against the spreading of rumors, innuendos, half-truths, and long forgiven transgressions? They must not be aware, because they continue to spread gossip by word, by telephone, by letters, and by the Internet. "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness...thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing [lies]." Psalms 5:4-6.
Slanderers, whisperers and talebearers are condemned sixteen times in the Old Testament, not counting many instances where other names are used. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things that are an abomination to the Lord. All seven condemn the gossiper: "A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
If such is the Old Testament standard, what does the New Testament teach? If anything, its condemnation is even more broad. The New Testament condemns all evil speaking. This applies to gossips who do not spread outright lies, but who distort the truth - depicting a person's faults without mentioning their virtues, and ascribing the worst possible motive to any word or deed, etc. "Speak not evil one of another, brethren." James 4:1.
Paul warned to let your speech be seasoned with grace. Colossians 4:6. Evil speaking is in the same class as frivolity, intemperance and faithlessness. I Timothy 3:11. The Bible denounces those who wander from house to house, "and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." I Timothy 5:13.
A gossiper fails to keep the second greatest commandment: to love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39. He or she is unconcerned about the welfare of others. A whisperer is self-centered. A talebearer has a negative approach to human relations. A slanderer's enjoyment comes at the expense of others. "Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire…an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." James 3:5,6,8.
A wise man once said, "I would rather play with forked lightening or take in my hands live wires than to speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ...Let us remember that when we persecute and hurt the children of God, we are but persecuting Him and hurting ourselves far more."