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Gossip- A Game That Nobody Wins

Gossip- A Game That Nobody Wins

Slandering, talebearing, rumors, and gossiping are all warned against in the Bible frequently and with fervor. Yet, it’s perhaps one of the most common misdeeds we do daily as we repeat what isn’t ours to repeat.

What’s Comsidered Being Gossipy?

Many try to justify telling other’s business as ‘information sharing’ by saying they only shared a truthful piece of information. However, gossipy information isn’t just false information. Gossipy information is talk without direct knowledge AND express permission by the subject of conversation for you to be talking to others about their business. It can be done with malicious intent, or slanderous, as in knowingly or purposefully talking about something harmful or untrue about a person with the intent to harm. It can also be idle talk, as in casually sharing information that’s simply not yours to share. Whether malicious or not, the result of partaking in gossipy behavior is the same – harming your fellow man, and that goes against everything Christians are taught.

It’s actually rather ironic how the term derived. In Old English, godsibb, now called godparent, was used to describe a spiritual sponsor. Middle English came to use gossib as a close friend. Now, we have gossips, which are far from being a Christian spiritual sponsor or friend.

The Responsibilities And Effects Of Rumors For Adults

Leviticus 19:16 says, “You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.”

We’ve been commanded not spread gossipy tales about our neighbors for good reason. It brings strife and discord to the subjects of it, and it’s often not just the subject of the rumor that’s affected. This can be a spiritual, professional, mental, physical, emotional, marital, and/or parental, strife that negatively impacts multiple facets of a person’s life and those around them.

Think on this situation. Mary spreads a rumor within her church congregation that Sussie appears to be overly friendly with another church member. These simple words can adversely affect Sussie’s reputation in the community, the health of her marriage, her children’s relationship with her, her mental and emotional wellbeing, and her spirituality.

Perhaps, Sussie’s behavior is purely innocent and the implications create strife where it doesn’t even exist. Perhaps, Sussie does have deeds she needs to communicate with God and her spiritual advisors about. But, even in the later case, have you helped her regain her spiritual path by telling or retelling the information? No. Think for a moment about the long-term implications that such a rumor could spawn. Sussie could take her children and leave church, thereby missing out on the spiritual guidance she and her children both need.

Proverbs 26:20-22 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.”

It’s important to remember that youth watch adults for how to model their own behaviors and as a guide for what’s acceptable. Titus 2:2-3 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good.”

The Effects Of Youth-On-Youth Rumors

Young people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of rumors. Their still-developing minds, limited life experiences, and insurgent supply of hormones often leave them without the tools to constructively handle and overcome their secrets being exposed or negative innuendos being created. And, in today’s highly technological world, it’s easier than ever for such information to be created indirectly or anonymously and spread vastly and rapidly across cyberspace. For a teen, the secret of fabricated info being spread can easily seem insurmountable.

Teens often develop low-self esteem after being the target of rumors and bullying, which is one of the leading factors in promiscuous behavior, developing an eating disorder, and suffering depression.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds, claiming thousands of lives yearly. Studies have shown that most teens usually don’t spend countless hours planning their own demise. Instead, suicide is often a rapid fire decision following an event like bullying that produces overwhelming feelings of abject failure, shame, or loss.

It should be noted that these behaviors amongst youth often stem from the child spreading the info having their own self-esteem issues from wanting to be accepted, noticed, heard, powerful, avenged, or entertained. They turn to power of rumors often because they’re angry with peers and lack better outlets, such as a strong community church group, to provide constructive guidance.

Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

From bullying to being bullied, it’s a cycle of hurt that can only be stopped by teaching children that words have power and must be carefully wielded to prevent spiritual, physical, and psychological harm to themselves and others.

The Bible Gives Answers To Combat Rumors And Innuendo

We were forewarned of it’s abundance and given a solution to the evils of the last days, including people spreading our secrets and falsehoods.

• Avoid Them.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

• Turn To Your Faith.

Proverbs 11:9 “With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.”

By knowing the most important love of all exists within that of our Heavenly Father, you can rely upon your faith to see you through any difficult time. You may also seek your own heart for areas you need to improve to ensure you’re uplifting your neighbor, not harming him, with your own words.

• Lead By Example.

James 1:26 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

Exodus 23:1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.”

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Many such passages can be found in the Bible where we are instructed to not only not be the founder of rumor but to also not to be complicit in its continued circulation.

Romans 1:29-32 “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters…Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

We must choose our own language carefully as words of encouragement against rumors we hear. “Benefit those who listen” … this includes the listening ear of the person telling what isn’t their place to tell. A great approach that helps both the victim and perpetrators is to cease these topics immediately and encourage a more Christian path of conversation.

• Confront Your Aggressors.

Anger is often the root of malicious slandering of another person. This is why we are taught to never let words leave our mouth with angry hearts and minds. Instead, humans need time to process, ponder, and pray for greater perspective. Once cooled off and judgment is sounder, most find that conflict resolution is the ultimate solution to anger.

In Matthew 18:15 we are taught to go directly to anyone who sins against us. It should be a private conversation between themselves. If the sinner doesn’t listen, we are instructed to approach him again with mediators. And, if that doesn’t work, we are to bring it to our spiritual advisors in church. One of the best ways to avoid harm with words and find reconciliation for what’s already been said is to be upfront with our grievances and earnest in our effort to resolve them.

In closing, using your words to harm never has a justification or winner. It’s never positive or helpful. The teachings of Christ strictly prohibit being the author and seller of rumor and secrets. It tarnishes reputations, airs secrets that aren’t ours to air, creates division and conflict, ruins relationships, and brings terrible pain. The result is anger and isolation that often pushes victims away from even the encouraging voices seeking to lift them up and help them succeed in their spiritual path.

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