I have a confession to make. They say confession is good for the soul. Ok here it is: I HATE gossip. I mean I really hate it! I have been the subject and topic of gossip, and yes I will admit that I have participated in circles of gossip. Because I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of gossip I have grown to hate it with a passion. In my profession I hear far more gossip than I care to hear. And as long as there are places where people congregate and get together (family, jobs, and even church) there will always be those who start and spread gossip. Gossip creates mess, dissension, and discord. Flattery is what I say to your face that I would never say behind your back. Gossip is what I say behind your back that I would never say to your face.
One of the unfortunate things about gossip is how it oftentimes begins at the expense of other people’s problems, issues, and mistakes. As if dealing with the consequences of sin is not enough, many times some of the hardest repercussion is the gossip that occurs about the people involved and the situation that occurred. Gossip hurts innocent people who are caught in the middle, it exaggerates the situation, and it keeps the one who did wrong loaded with guilt and frustration. (Consider these passages: Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 20:19, Proverbs 26:20, Romans 1:29, 2 Corinthians 12:20, 1 Timothy 5:13 … the Bible talks a great deal about the effects of gossip)
With that in mind, check out these 6 suggestions on how to stop, or at least slow, the spread of gossip.
1. Don’t repeat something you don’t know is true firsthand – secondhand knowledge is not enough to justify repeating. You will get something wrong and it will hurt others. A lot of gossip can be stopped if this principle is followed. Because most of the time we do not get gossip firsthand.
2. Don’t repeat it unless its helpful to do so and you have a vested interest in the situation – the people involved, and permission to share…doing so in the name of a “prayer request” is not a good excuse…
3. Don’t “confess” other people’s sins – Even if the wrong included you and you feel the need to confess, share your story, but not someone else’s.
4. Tell only what happened and not your commentary – Not “I think this is probably what happened” or why you think it happened . . .
5. Choose to pray for others every time you are tempted to tell their story…instead of telling their story.
6. When someone tells you something about someone else that you don’t need to know, don’t allow curiosity to be your guide…follow your heart. Stop the person and tell them you don’t want to know! Remember, if they will spread gossip about others they will spread it about you!