If you get to talking to certain people long enough, you’ll end up hearing some sort of story that you have no business hearing. Not everyone has a battle with this, but some do. I've heard gossip brought up as if it were some sort of issue just for women. As a man, let me be very clear about this: men are just as guilty of gossip as women. Sin doesn't choose a gender. This is rather pervasive in the world and yes, in the church as well. I know this may be shocking to you, but even the pastor of your church could be guilty of this from time to time as well. We have all done this in one way or another.
When you look at this sin in light of scripture, you can see how common and how invasive it is. You will also see exactly what God thinks about it. I have written previously about the tongue and you should go back and read that article, but this isn't going to be just a different approach. No, in this article we will look at a specific sin, gossip.
In light of scripture, we can see many warnings against this and descriptions of what it will do.
A dishonest man spreads strife,
This sin of gossip can; and will, destroy relationships. Personally speaking, it has ruined more than one friendship for me in the past. Someone goes around someone else's back and speaks out of turn without having the entire picture. Or even understanding of the picture and starts a spark of dissension between people and, there you have it, the trust is lost. Once this trust is lost it is a hard thing to get back. The verse says “a dishonest man” so you can see that honest people aren't going to make a practice of this.
I'm sure I could write a long article about how the world is evil and how gossip flows out of the unbelievers mouths like water from a river. However, I want to focus on the body of believers right now. How, you might ask, has this invaded the church and how can I spot it? Well simply put, open your ears. I have been in groups of people gathered to discuss the Bible on Sunday morning— or on any other day of the week — and we usually have a time of prayer request. You can see it, gossip, here hiding and veiled in a request for someone who isn't there. It may sound like “Well you know Jerry? Yeah well he and his wife aren’t having a good go of things financially so we should pray for them.”
I have literally heard a statement like this and it's absolutely disturbing. While Jerry and his wife may have some issues, it's not that person's place or right to bring that up. How can this be better approached? By mentioning you have a friend who needs your prayer and not mentioning their names. It all boils down to one simple thing. Do you believe that God is who He says He is? Is God truly All Knowing? If you agree that He is such as the Bible says He is, then you have no need in bringing up that person's name. Unless the fact is that you like to stir up issues or spread rumors, then if that be the case you're in sin and you need to repent. Truly caring for someone means that you are praying for them when you're told about the issue and that you will guard their secrets and issues as a brother would help another. That's in fact what we are, isn't it? Family? If you are saved then you are a part of the family of God in which we are all adopted children and we must treat each other that way.
Family protects one another and cares for each other. We as Christians are much more than family though. We are a body, the body of Christ. An arm doesn't cause problems for the eyes or ears for the feet. Christians should not like to spread strife or, a more common word that we use these days, conflict. Do you like causing problems with other people? I'm sure you don't. If you start gossiping that's what it will lead to. It's a dangerous game to play with others' problems or even perceived problems that may only seem like an issue to you because you don't have the full picture. If you see an issue, go and speak to that person and don't let it go any further. Let what is said between those speaking.
I personally pray about this from time to time. I often find myself using scripture in my prayers because it just encapsulates my heart and what I truly want to say and pray. One of the verses I think on is from Psalm 141:3
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
As Jesus said in John 15:5 “Apart from me you can do nothing” and it rings true with this as well. Truly this is a harmful sin that can irreparably damage friendships and keep us from having true and close fellowship with one another. I dare say, this is the reason most people don't actually open up; they are afraid of being hurt and their issues spread around like seeds on the farm in the springtime. Keep the trust and keep it to yourself. Pray for one another and love one another. Cling to Christ and His word. He is the solid rock on which we stand and His Word is our guide for life.