FAQ :: What exactly is gossip and is it really a sin?

“Do not go about spreading slander among your people” (Lev. 19:16). “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (Jas. 1:26). “Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36, 37). Gossip can be a cruel weapon, one that is turned on friends and enemies alike. It is completely against God’s standard of preserving unity and lifting one another up. It serves no purpose but a selfish one–there is no good result from gossip.

The gossiping person may be trying to look better by making the other person look bad. I have news: that strategy never works that way. Anytime someone has talked badly to me about someone else, I always wonder what that person says about me when I am not around and then I no longer trust that person.

The most pathetic example of gossip that I have ever witnessed was in a Bible study. During prayer request time, a woman asked for prayer for an absent group member. In the guise of a prayer request, she gave some very personal, some would say juicy, details about this poor woman’s life. It was terrible. As the leader of the group, I could only imagine that every woman would think that each time she wasn’t there, she would be the subject. I had to ask the gossiper to go to each member of the group and apologize and promise that it would never happen again.

Gossip is so damaging. More damage can be done with the tongue than by any other means. Like our mothers used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”