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Oct 13 2010

Gossip and its Effects

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Back in 2009, I wrote a post about gossip (read here).  That post focused on what scripture had to say about it.  I’ve been bothered by how pervasive gossip is in the body of Christ.  I am very troubled as to how damaging it is to the person who is the target of gossip.  I have been witness to gossip and I have been a target of gossip.  I think that at some point in our lives, we have all engaged in this damaging activity.  More recently, I have been witness to Christian gossip because I have been paying attention.  I actually watched two Christians discuss members of their congregation and take them apart. They went through a list of people — it was nothing short of shocking.

I was walking with one of “targets” and she was sharing with me how much she loved the congregation and the members of the congregation were her friends.  In fact, she stated that the only reason she stayed in the state in which she lives is because of her church.  I remember thinking to myself “if only you knew what your ‘friends’ are saying about you.”  I heard her her “friends” tear her apart behind her back.  She had no idea what people were saying to her behind her back and what they really thought of her.

We can be sure that if someone is gossiping to us, likely we also are the target of their gossip.  If we are gossiping, we can be sure that we also are the target of gossip.  There never is a good reason for gossip.  God has spoken harshly against a gossip and in fact, speaks about a gossip contemptuously.

Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 1 Timothy 5:13 (ESV)

Those who gossip ruin reputations, harm others and for no other reason than to benefit their own ego.  There is no other reason to talk about someone’s bad housekeeping, not participating in helping out, or whatever it is that is being discussed.  The person being gossiped about is not helped but in fact, harm is being done to them.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Matthew 18:15-16 (ESV)

If any of us are not taking the issue directly to the person but instead we are speaking about them behind their back, we become a gossip.  That would make us a two-faced, backstabbing malicious person.

I sometimes think about that woman who believes her Christian friends care for her.  They do not.  They are dishonest and fake a friendship to her face.  She is the butt of gossip at her church.  She is not liked.  And she does not know.  How sad is that?

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  1. Margaret

    Gossip is sad far beyond words….. Like you said, gossipers are just trying to build up their own egos….. I remember my folks saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” ….

    Trying to tear someone down is such a hateful thing and somewhere in God’s word it says whoever hates his brother is a murderer….. That should make one think before they open their mouth…. But, it’s obvious that that sort of hate does not let a person think rationally…..

    We can take comfort in the fact that God knows all things and will rightly judge everyone in the end….. Christians have to endure a lot of things, even within the church amongst false brethren.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Margaret,

      Yeah, I totally agree with you that it is “sad far beyond words.” As to these people, I know some of them really well and I can say that they are not false brethren, at least as far as we can humanely know about someone close to us. I just think that it’s one of those sins that’s not as overt as murder or adultery that make the news so people don’t really look at it or look at themselves as a “gossip.”

      I guess what I hope to happen through my blog is that if someone reads something, they may stop and think about something. I know that is how I have learned about certain things — from others whether talking to them, reading a good Christian doctrinal book or reading blogs from folks like me.

      1. Margaret

        Tishrei,

        I’m sure you are right on my reference to “false brethren”….. I was not clear on that…. The false brethren sort of gossip is what Paul and all the apostles had to deal with….. But, that even happens today — though not in the instance you referred to…. I’m sorry to have sounded like that.

        Some of my thoughts were in regards to someone I knew years ago, who started all sorts of discord in the church, pitting people against each other with all sorts of “untruths” that hurt deeply…. For a very long time people didn’t realize how it came about that their fellowship was breaking up…. After the gossiper moved to another town, it took a long time to heal and realize the truth.

  2. Harlequin

    Hey Blog Lady T.,

    That was sad about the woman who had no idea that she was being ripped by people thought so highly of. Really sad. I can only imagine how devistated she would be if she found out.

    We all need to watch our tongues; if we wouldn’t say to the person’s face then we shouldn’t say it all.

    Thank you for posting this.

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