Gossip is like a secret craving. We say we don’t like it, but when it’s within reach, we almost can’t resist it. We get a sudden appetite to know what we don’t know… about somebody else.
Why is it so hard to stop? Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
No, you might think. Not me. I’m not into sharing the dirty details about a person’s life just for fun. But gossip comes in many flavors, and it involves listening as well. Proverbs 17:4 notes: “Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.” Yikes!
Types of Gossip and What the Bible Says
How do we know what’s gossip and what’s not gossip? We can find a number of bible verses about gossip, especially in Proverbs, and we can also ask God to reveal it to us. James 1:5 tells us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Have any of the types of gossip below been too tempting for you to resist lately?
It’s defined as spreading rumors or lies about a person to cause damage purposely. The written form of it is libel.
The bible mentions slander countless times in lists like this one: “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
James 4:11 tells it straight: “Brothers, do not slander one another.”
“Dishin’ the dirt” basically means sharing the “juicy info” you learned about someone. Maybe the intent isn’t to directly cause damage, but by keeping the gossip alive, it continues to spread and taint the image of the person it’s about.
Proverbs 20:19 tells us that a gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
James 5:9 says, “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!”
You hear something, and it’s not good, and it’s also not confirmed as true. But you tell someone or ask someone else about it to get more info. The rumor mill turns and turns and the gossip spreads.
Proverbs 13:3 says, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”
It’s a flavor of gossip that involves speaking spiteful or slanderous words about another who is not present and can do nothing in defense. It’s secretive, and the bible actually mentions it by name in Proverbs 22:23: “The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.”
Also: “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure” (Psalm 101:5).
Have you ever taken some part of truth and turned it into a joke about someone that makes other question their character? It also serves as a passive way to spread more gossip. Example: Maybe he/she will actually get off the couch today long enough to blahblah. haha.
When the joking is harmful to another, it’s mockery. How can you know a mocker? It’s in the bible. Proverbs 21:24 says, “Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.” And verse 9:8 says, “A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.”
In addition, Proverbs 22:10 says, “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”
And Psalm 1:1 starts out: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”
The bible tells us we reap what we sow. With that in mind, this type of gossip is said in such a way to make the listener question or assume something about the character of a person. For example: Isn’t it weird how he keeps staring at your girlfriend when you’re not looking?
James 3:5 tells us, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
A warning from the bible from Proverbs 16:28: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
These subtle insinuations can mislead others into thinking wrong thoughts, especially if the conclusions are based on gossipy hunches. Here’s an example: It’s interesting how he was “out of town” the night she was murdered.
Proverbs 26:30 tells us, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.”
And a warning from the bible: “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3).
You admit you probably got it wrong, but spread it anyway, because it’s still touching on some points that could be true. Or would sound exciting if true. Either way, it usually starts out like this: I probably got this all wrong, but apparently…
This is one of the most common types of gossip. We think we’re just passing on the latest news. Could it hurt someone? Meh. Maybe. But if we don’t even know the person, does it matter? James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who know the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
Thankfully, Jesus gave us an example to follow:
There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is said whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs” (Matt 10:26-27).