What does the Bible say about gossip?
Gossip may seem like an innocent form of communication but can sever relationships and cause division in a church. While people may believe they are simply sharing information, if their intent is to tear a person down, then they are not following the will of God. The Bible even lists gossip as one of the most depraved acts. Let’s take a closer look at gossip and how to avoid spreading the wrong information.
Christian quotes about gossip
“Notice, we never pray for folks we gossip about, and we never gossip about the folk for whom we pray! For prayer is a great deterrent.”Leonard Ravenhill
“Whoever gossips to you will gossip of you.”
“I maintain that, if everyone knew what others said about him, there would not be four friends in the world.” Blaise Pascal
“A real Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip.” Billy Graham
“What good does it do to speak in tongues on Sunday if you have been using your tongue during the week to curse and gossip?” Leonard Ravenhill
Scripture has a lot to say about spreading gossip
The Bible speaks often warning people to avoid gossip as it can cause a myriad of problems. According to the word, gossip can separate friends (Proverbs 16:28), cause quarreling (Proverbs 26:20), keeps people in trouble (Proverbs 21:23), can lead to ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:16), and can lead to bitterness and anger (Ephesians 4:31). Many other verses expound on gossip, focusing on avoiding spreading rumors, lying, and slander. Scripture makes it clear that gossip should not be part of a Christian repertoire.
Although many believe gossip to be harmless, the point of gossip shows the true nature of the act. Gossip cause harm because of the underlying purpose of tearing someone down. True Godly love does not dishonor others (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) but helps to build them up and encourage them (Ephesians 4:29). When people take part in rumors, they choose to dishonor someone and cause strife which is inherently against the nature and will of God.”
1. Proverbs 16:28 (NIV) “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”
2. Proverbs 26:20 “Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, a conflict ceases.”
3. Proverbs 11:13 “A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.”
4. Proverbs 26:22 “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.”
5. Leviticus 19:16 “Never gossip. Never endanger your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.”
6. Luke 6:31 “And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.”
7. Proverbs 18:8 (KJV) “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
8. James 3:5 “In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it boasts of great things. Consider how small a spark sets a great forest ablaze.”
9. Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
10. 1 Timothy 5:13 “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.”
11. Psalm 15:2-3 “The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; 3 whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others.”
Is gossip a sin?
While gossip may seem normal, it’s of this world and not the heavenly kingdom. Romans 12:2 (NIV) states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will. Christians strive to follow God’s will, which is not possible while gossiping, making gossip something that can separate you from God. For this reason, gossip is a sin.
Furthermore, gossip can cause complications in relationships with friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, and more. Romans 14:13 says, “Therefore let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” Sharing rumors or slander causes distrust and can quickly ruin a relationship that causes others to react with inappropriate behavior and could cause them to stumble.
Gossip may seem harmless but can lead to lasting problems such as revealing secrets (Proverbs 20:19), kindling strife, separating friends, causing anger, and showing one’s self to be a fool. Additionally, Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us that God hates six tings and seven are an abomination: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and someone who sows discord among brothers. Gossip falls into several of these aspects that can take us away from the will and presence of God.
12. Proverbs 6:14 “With deceit in his heart he devises evil; he continually sows discord.”
13. Romans 1:29-32 “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
14. Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
15. Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
16. Proverbs 19:5 “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.”
17. 2 Corinthians 12:20 “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”
18. James 1:26 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
19. Psalm 39:1 “I said, “I will watch my ways so that I will not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle as long as the wicked are present.”
20. James 3:2 “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to control his whole body.”
Listening to gossip
Proverbs 17:4 tells us that evildoers listen to the words of the wicked and warns us to avoid listening to gossip. Moreover, gossip spreads like fire (Proverbs 16:27), leading many down a road far away from the will of God. Therefore, Christians should never participate in the secular activity of gossip as it can lead them away from God and toward a life of sin.
21. Proverbs 17:4 (NLT) “Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.”
22. Proverbs 14:15 “The simple man believes every word, but the prudent man watches his steps.”
23. Romans 16:17 “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.”
24. Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
25. Proverbs 18:8 “Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.”
Prayer request gossip
If you ask for a prayer request for yourself, you are seeking help from your community to help go before God with your requests. However, if you ask for a prayer request for someone else for the purpose of airing personal information in a way that seems valid even though it is not, then you are participating in prayer request gossip.
Avoiding prayer request gossip can be done in two ways. First, get the permission of the person you are asking for prayer for before making the prayer request. Second, ask for an unspoken prayer request. Keep in mind that an unspoken prayer for someone specific can lead to gossip accidentally as it will cause others to speculate about the prayer needs of the person.
26. Proverbs 21:2 “People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart.”
27. Proverbs 16:2 “All a man’s ways are pure in his own eyes, but his motives are weighed out by the LORD.”
28. Proverbs 10:19 “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”
29. Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
30. Matthew 15:8 “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
What’s the difference between sharing and gossiping?
The difference between sharing and gossip is subtle but depends on the purpose of sharing the information. To determine if you are sharing instead of gossiping, answer these questions:
Am I lying or telling the truth?
Am I building the person up or tearing them down?
Did I talk to the other person about the problem?
Have I checked myself for a plank in my eye?
Why do I feel the need to share this information?
Will sharing this information improve the situation?
Gossiping is essentially sharing information with someone who does not need it about another person for the purpose of drawing ill attention. People like to do when others make a poor decision because it gives us the power to feel superior and in control of ourselves. However, gossip does the opposite; it steals someone else’s sense of trust and turns the gossiper into a vicious person willing to harm others for their own purposes and connects us to Satan, not God.
When sharing, our motives are pure. Sometimes negative things need to be shared but for the purpose of improving the situation, not to make it worse. Test your motives by asking yourself do you want the other person to know what you said about them. If the answer is no, it’s gossip. Also, if the information you plan to share is a heavy burden for you that you wish to unload with altruistic purpose, then it may not be gossip and might then be venting.
31. Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
32. Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.“
33. Titus 3:2 “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
34. Psalm 34:13 “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.”
The negative effects of gossip
Gossip has a negative effect on everyone involved as it can separate them from the will of God. The gossiper has left the correct path and fallen into the ways of the world, and it can damage many relationships in the process. Furthermore, gossip can seep into everyone’s heart and lead them down a path of sin.
Next, gossip can spread lies, more gossip, distrust, disrespect, and disobedience to God. That’s a lot of negativity from a seemingly harmless bit of information! Even more, the gossip may ruin someone’s reputation and change how other people view them with negative insight. Finally, gossip can break confidentiality if you promise the person to keep the information to yourself.
Gossip can also affect mental health to the person being gossiped about. The negative behavior can lead to stress and anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and in worse cases, suicide. The person gossiping may not be in control of other people’s responses, but their words set choices into action. Words really can hurt other people, unlike the popular saying we all heard as children, “sticks and stones my break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
35. Proverbs 20:19 “One who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with a gossip.”
36. Proverbs 25:23 “As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!”
How should the church deal with gossip?
Churches need to keep their community tight-knit by taking every opportunity to prevent or stop gossip. The person being gossiped about needs to guard their heart and pray for those speaking against them. While it’s not fun to think that the burden of acting correctly falls on the victim, this is sometimes the only way to break negativity for someone to be the mature party.
Next, churches need to define gossip along with rumors and slander. Third, pastors and other leaders need to make a concerted effort to prevent or stop ungodly behavior in the church family. Leadership sets the town and can elevate the rest of the community by leading by example. Lastly, those in the church should not participate in gossip, even if that means leaving a conversation and refusing to take part in the activity. Make sure to tell the gossiper you are leaving because you do not wish to be a part of gossip and redirect them to the word of God.
37. Matthew 18:15-16 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
Gossip vs slander
While gossip is ideal to talk about another person’s private affairs, slander is false and malicious words said against a person to ruin their good name or someone’s opinion of the person. Gossip may not seek to cause harm but does, while slander seeks to harm and accomplish the goal. Most often, slander includes complete lies to further ruin a person’s view of another person.
Gossip may be the truth but not the gossipers’ truth to tell. As for slandering, not only are the words false, but the intent behind the words is extremely harmful. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-27, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you are justified, and by your words, you are condemned.” We will be judged for both gossip and slander.
38. Psalm 50:20 “You sit and malign your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.”
39. Psalm 101:5 “Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.”
40. Proverbs 10:18 (NASB) “One who conceals hatred has lying lips, And one who spreads slander is a fool.”
41. 1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
42. Proverbs 11:9 “With his mouth the ungodly destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued.”
Guarding against gossip
Psalm 141:3 states, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” Proverbs 13:3 tells us if we guard our mouth, we can preserve our lives and that gossip can ruin our lives. The question is, how do we guard ourselves against gossip?
Philippians 4:8 helps us to guard our hearts by telling us how to center our focus. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” By focusing our thoughts on the right thoughts, we can stay in God’s will and avoid gossiping.
43. Proverbs 13:3 “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
44. Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.”
45. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
46. Matthew 15:18–19 “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
47. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
48. Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
49. Proverbs 13:3 “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”
50. Galatians 5:24 “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
50. Mark 14:38 “Watch and pray so that you will not enter into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Examples of gossip in the Bible
While the Bible does not offer examples of individuals who gossiped, it does offer teachers and disciples telling Christian groups to avoid gossiping. For example, James tells Christians to bridle their tongues and not to speak evil against one another (1:26, 4:11). In addition, Paul spoke about expecting to find inappropriate behavior such as gossip or slander at the church in 2 Corinthians in verse 12:20.
Titus admonished the people to avoid gossip as well in verses 2:2-3, focusing on the people who held a position in the church and acted as an example to others. Both Proverbs and Psalms mention the necessity of avoiding misspeaking about others throughout their books, lamenting the necessity to keep our tongues bridled to honor God.
Finally, in Romans 1:28-32, Paul tells the church what a person going against the will of God looks like, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
By allowing gossip, Christians are debasing their mind and turning from God. As we are called to live in the world but not of the world, Christians need to keep their thoughts pure and focus on God to avoid partaking in unrighteous behavior that can destroy themselves and others.
51. Psalm 41:6 “They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.”
52. Psalm 31:13 “I have heard the gossip of many; terror is on every side. When they conspired against me, they plotted to take my life.”
53. 3 John 1:10 “So if I come, I will remind him of how he has been attacking us with gossip. Not only has he been doing this, but he refuses to welcome any of the Lord’s followers who come by. And when other church members want to welcome them, he puts them out of the church.”
54. 2 Thessalonians 3:11 “Yet we hear that some of you are leading undisciplined lives and accomplishing nothing but being busybodies.”
55. Genesis 37:2 “These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.”
56. Psalm 41:5-8 “My enemies speak evil against me, “When will he die, and his name perish?” 6 And when he comes to see me, he speaks empty words; His heart gathers wickedness to itself; When he goes outside, he tells it. 7 All who hate me whisper together against me; They plot my harm against me, saying, 8 “A wicked thing is poured out upon him, So that when he lies down, he will not get up again.”
57. Ezekiel 36:3 “Therefore prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because they ravaged and crushed you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander.”
58. Psalm 69:12 “I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me.”
59. Jeremiah 20:10 “For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.”
60. John 9:24 “So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.”
As you can see, gossip not only damages human relationships but also separates us from God. Not only is gossiping a sin but a depraved behavior that can hurt many people inadvertently. Christians should avoid gossip at all costs to keep their place in God’s will and stay out of the ways of the world. Scripture tells us repeatedly to avoid gossiping about others for the spiritual health of everyone.