The Gossip Problem
I remember it like it was yesterday. The queasy stomach, the tears I fought to hold back, the incredible hurt I felt in my heart.
"You know, Autumn," my friend Nick* said, "Lisa and Andrea were just talking about you." I immediately got tense.
"They said you're a kiss-up, that the only reason you start on the basketball team is because the coach likes you. It's not because you're good."
I thought I might be sick.
"They said they're tired of you always getting what you want. You don't deserve it."
It was all I could do to hold back the tears as I sank to my knees on the cold, concrete floor. As Nick continued to tell me everything my supposed best friends said about me, I was crushed. My mind raced. I knew I didn't deserve this. But that didn't make it any easier.
Lisa and Andrea came in from lunch break acting like nothing had happened. Lisa was still my locker mate, Andrea my partner on a history project. I was amazed at their ability to pretend we had the perfect friendship. Especially since they'd said such hurtful things.
I was a freshman in high school—and I felt like I didn't have a friend in the world.
All because of gossip.
The Bible tells us the tongue is our worst enemy. "The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person," James 3:6 says.
In the book of Romans, Paul includes gossip among the sins of murder, envy, greed, deceit and malice. He said "those who do such things deserve death."
So why does God despise gossip?
Proverbs offers several verses on the subject. A gossip "betrays a confidence" (11:13) and "separates close friends" (16:28). Proverbs 18:8 says, "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts."
When we say mean things about others, we're inflicting emotional pain on them. Instead of punching them in the nose, we're shooting daggers into their heart.
As Christians, we're supposed to honor God in all areas of our lives. Talking negatively about friends or strangers does not show Christ's unconditional love.
So, what should we do when we encounter gossip? I think there are three possible responses.
1. Speak out. Kindly but firmly tell your friends gossip is hurtful and that no one benefits from it.
2. Be positive. Turn the conversation around by saying something nice about the person being talked about.
3. Walk away. Don't be part of the problem by sticking around to listen.
You've probably heard gossip everywhere—at school, in the mall, on the Net. But what about on Sunday mornings? You'd think stuff like this wouldn't happen in church sanctuaries or youth group meetings, right?
Wrong, unfortunately. And the scary thing is we may not even realize it. Gossip may not be as blatant at church as it is at school, but it can still show its ugly face. We're just better at "disguising" it at church.