Jared Wilson – The Danger of Gossip

The Lord loves a straight shooter. How do I know this? Because this is the embodiment of the wisdom imparted in Proverbs, including this helpful little gem: “Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you” (4:24).

Crooked speech is talk that isn’t straight. It is bowed, off-kilter, circuitous, meandering. There are a few examples we could name, including outright lying and even hypocritical living, but one of the most glaring examples of crooked speech that is practically epidemic in the church is the sin of gossip. But what is gossip?

One reason gossip can be so difficult to define is that it so often masquerades as something more mundane, perhaps even beneficent. I’m sure you have witnessed plenty of prayer requests shared on someone’s behalf that seemed to include unnecessary details or salacious information. You’ve probably heard your share of “words of concern” that bordered on insinuation or improper speculation. Maybe you’ve offered such words yourself. I know I have.

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Mike Riccardi – How to Kill Your Neighbor

It’s not a controversial statement to observe that our culture is morally bankrupt. Western society has barreled through the checkpoints of God’s judgment of abandonment as outlined in Romans 1:18–32. From the denial of God’s existence to pervasive idolatry, from unfettered fornication to rampant adultery and divorce, from homosexuality and the virulent attempts to destroy anyone who doesn’t “give hearty approval” to the reprobate mind that can no longer discern between male and female: we live in an uncommonly wicked society. Add to that the systematic extermination of the most defenseless of our population—the 60 million babies murdered in their mothers’ wombs in the last 45 years, all under the protection of federal law — and it makes one cry out for the mercy, or the judgment, of God.

But in the midst of a culture so morally upside-down as ours, even those of us in the visible church can become desensitized to the sinister nature of what we might think of as less sensationalistic sins. Jerry Bridges called them “Respectable Sins” several years ago, and evangelicalism has understood what he meant. Sins like anxiety, discontentment, impatience, and jealousy all seem to be small potatoes compared to the great societal evils outlined above. And while we know they’re wrong, we tend to think of them as things that are just a part of life — even life in the church of God. But it’s these “respectable” sins that have the greatest potential to destroy the moral fiber of a people, because they’re the most covered-for and rationalized-away. Like the slow rot of tooth decay, these sins imperceptibly wear away at our moral enamel until the pain they cause is unbearable and requires drastic action.

To continue reading Mike Riccardi’s article, click here.

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Tim Challies – When It’s Time To Remember All the Stupid Things You’ve Said

We don’t want to live in the past or dwell on former sins. On the whole, not much good comes of thinking back to the unwise things we’ve said or the depraved things we’ve done. We trust that God has fully and finally forgiven our sins, and we do well to leave the past in the past.

But the Bible does make at least one exception. There is at least one time we may benefit from dwelling on our shameful history. Solomon explains in Ecclesiastes 7:21: “Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.”

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Matthew Vander Els – Taming the Tongue

We all know gossip is a sin according to scripture and all forms of slanderous speech end in destruction. What about speaking truth is a way that is malice? Is this as great of a sin as slander?

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Stephen Witmer – Gossip Says More About Me


Gossip is tasty to its speakers and hearers. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8 NIV). A choice morsel is exciting and enticing, swallowed greedily, like potato chips or onion rings. But gossipy words aren’t just a burst of flavor on the tongue; they “go down to the inmost parts,” promising to meet the deep desires of our hearts.

Why does gossip taste so good? Ironically, while gossip’s content usually focuses on other people, at its core, gossip is really about me. It promises to make me feel a certain way about myself. We gossip because of what gossip promises to do for us. Therefore, when we gossip, we’re serving and worshiping ourselves (perhaps that’s why Paul lists gossip as a sin of idolatrous people in Romans 1:29).

Jonathan Dodson’s articles have helped me identify gossip’s false promises. Let’s consider four of them it makes to us.

1. “You Are Interesting.”

We all like to feel accepted, and interesting gossip can serve as our entrance badge into a conversation or group. All the more so if the gossip is negative and leads to mutual complaining. Gossiping and griping can be a bonding experience (“Did you hear the latest about our boss?”).

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Michael Boling – Gossip: An Insidious Cancer


“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts”(Proverbs 18:8 – NIV).

“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34 – ESV).

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:29-31 – KJV).

“Hey Margaret. What do you think about the new person in the office? How in the world did he get hired in the first place?”

“There goes Jim outside with Sarah again. I wonder if they are having an affair. They sure spend lots of time outside talking. What do you think about that Alex?”

“Man the boss is such a jerk. Plus he is so incompetent and never listens to our ideas. I told you if he was hired this would happen.”

“I cannot believe our neighbors allow their kids to stay up so late at night. Don’t they realize children need sufficient rest? I would never allow our kids to do that. Hurry up and close the curtains so they can’t see us watching them!”

Have you ever said any of these things or perhaps been unfortunate enough to hear someone else speak these words? Admit it. At some point either at home, church, work, out with friends, at the mall, in a restaurant, or you name it, we have heard someone saying something about someone behind their back. Arguably, most of the time what is being said is not uplifting. The Bible defines such talk as gossip and God is quite clear throughout Scripture that engaging in such an activity is not in any way classified as righteous behavior. In fact, it is downright destructive for both the individual who engages in gossip as well as the recipient and those who do nothing to shut down such unhealthy conversation.

In his excellent book Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue, Matthew Mitchell provides a helpful working definition of gossip. He defines it as such: “Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.”[1] This approach to defining gossip encapsulates the verses shared at the beginning of this post. To help us better understand why the sin of gossip is so deleterious and insidious, let’s spend some time examining Proverbs 18:8, Matthew 12:34, and Ephesians 4:29.

Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.”

The “words” mentioned in this passage is the Hebrew noun dabar meaning “words or utterances.” It can also be stated that by extension, dabar can also be reflected in our actions and behaviors.

Gossip is the Hebrew verb nirgan. This verb is often translated as talebearer, whisperer, or lazy man. Interestingly, this verb is derived from an unused root word meaning “to roll to pieces.”

As we continue in this passage we find the words of the gossip/talebearer/whisperer described as “choice morsels” with some translations noting this as “wounds”. While some may comment that “wounds” is much different than choice morsels, such an opinion overlooks the fact that while appearing to be nothing harmful (i.e. choice morsels), ultimately, gossip wounds and destroys. From a linguistic standpoint, the Hebrew root word is the verb laham meaning “to gulp or swallow greedily”, denoting the idea that at first gossip seems like something sweet and satisfying, much like a delicious dessert. Mitchell aptly comments “Bad news is attractive but not good for us. There is something really wrong within us that makes us want to know and talk about the shameful things that other people do.”[2] Just as eating too many sweets rots our teeth, in the same way engaging in gossip rots our spiritual “gut”.

This rotting of the spiritual insides is reflected in the conclusion of Proverbs 18:8 with the notation that these choice morsels “go down to the inmost parts.” There are a number of interesting Hebrew words used in this phrase. To “go down” is the Hebrew verb yarad, a word that expresses the idea of pulling, casting down, or falling. Furthermore, these choice morsels are pulled or cast down to the inmost parts. “Inmost parts” is the Hebrew noun cheder or a chamber where these choice gossip morsels will take residence. Finally, we have some translations relaying the destination of this destructive yet seemingly tasty talk being the belly, the Hebrew noun beten What is fascinating about the use of beten is that while in some locations in Scripture this word refers to the physical belly, there are instances when beten refers to the depths of Sheol or the grave. Such usage certainly indicates the death that results from gossip.

If we put all this information together from Proverbs 18:8 we can see a rather disturbing picture. Gossip is indeed words and actions that may appear to be harmless. However, in the end, they are likened to an overdose of sugary sweets that will do nothing but rot your spiritual bones to dust.

Matthew 12:34 – “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

In this passage, Jesus excoriates the Pharisees for their evil words. What is most relevant in this passage for our discussion is where Jesus says these evil words come from.

“Out of the abundance” is the first piece of this passage we must understand. Some translations state “from the abundance” or “what the heart is full of”. If we look at the underlying Greek words we first come across the Greek preposition ek meaning “from”. Thus, what comes out of the mouth springs from something located somewhere. Our words have a source, a wellspring if you will. This source or wellspring is said to be from the “abundance”. This idea of abundance is derived from the Greek noun perisseuma which perfectly describes this concept of abundance as it relates to this idea of gossip. This term describes the things “in which one delights; that which is left over, residue, remains”. Hopefully the horrid picture is beginning to take shape in relation to what gossip is all about. Gossip is evil. Those who engage in gossip are doing that which delights them. There is such an overflow or abundance in their inmost parts that what flows from their mouth is nothing more than the evil thoughts and desires that have taken residence in their “belly.”

We can see from this passage that gossip is not just a passing fancy. Those who repeatedly engage in gossip get a thrill from it. They are so full of a desire to harm others that what continually comes from their mouth is a wellspring of words of death and destruction. No wonder Jesus chastised the Pharisees for speaking evil. They had all the appearances of righteousness on the outside but what came out of their mouths was everything but holiness. Their hearts were full of rottenness. Those who pursue gossip are no better than those Pharisees that were at the receiving end of Jesus’ strong words found in Matthew 12:34.

Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

The Apostle Paul provides the prescription for getting rid of the cancerous disease of gossip. First, he commands believers to allow no corrupt communication to come out of our mouths. Only that which edifies and builds up is to be the focus of conversation, specifically that which imparts grace to the recipient of our words. To do otherwise is to grieve the Holy Spirit. We can immediately see yet again the impact gossip has on our spiritual walk, namely having the result of grieving or offending the Holy Spirit. This idea of grieving comes from the Greek verb lypeō, a word that connotes the idea of making sorrowful. The horrific destructive words that are gossip sadden the Holy Spirit. Ask yourself why you would want to bring sorrow to God. Gossip is a wretched stench to a holy God.

If anyone remains unsure as to what constitutes gossip, Paul provides a pretty extensive list of what can often be the root causes of gossip: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice. Out of this list, let me point out one word in particular, that being evil speaking. This word is translated from the Greek noun blasphēmia meaning “slander, detraction, speech injurious, to another’s good name.” This idea of injuring someone’s name was very important in the ancient Near East and even during Paul’s day. One would not speak ill of the King. During my time in the United States Navy, we were always reminded prior to debarking the ship during port visits to Thailand to refrain from saying anything injurious about the King of Thailand for doing so was deemed offensive to the Thai people. A person’s “name” reflects their character, essentially who they are as an individual. To blasphemia another human being is to besmirch, to defame, or to slander another individual. We are commanded to not take God’s name in vain. In the same vein, we are also commanded not to take in vain the name of those made in the image of God.

So what is the proper response to a situation where we might be tempted to engage in gossip? Paul provides the solution to the problem. The cure for the disease of gossip is found in reflecting the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit, specifically the process of sanctification in our lives, will root out gossip. It will dry up that wellspring of acid that is gossip replacing it with kindness, forgiveness, and love. Paul tells us that in the same manner Christ has forgiven us, we should forgive others.

If someone has wronged you, the response should not be finding a coworker to talk about that person behind their back. The righteous response is forgiveness. If you have no clue as to why someone was promoted in your office, refrain from gossiping about something for which you really have no clue about. Even if the promotion was erroneous, it is not your job to go around the office spouting acidic words of destruction about that individual. Instead demonstrate an attitude of love and tenderheartedness. The mouth of the believer cannot be the source of both gossip and words of grace. The Apostle James reminds us “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:10 – NIV). In fact, James describes things such as gossip as being from the pit of hell. Do we really want to engage in an activity that is from the father of lies? May it never be!

Gossip is very tempting and if we were honest with ourselves we would have to admit this is a sin for which we so often fall and stumble upon. If you find that you are a gossiper, get on your knees and ask God to root out this insidious activity from your innermost being. It will not be easy for gossip truly takes root down deep inside us all. Keep chopping at that root with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God through the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Surround yourself with people committed to speaking life. Have the courage to walk away from a conversation that is destructive or to say this conversation is unhealthy.

While gossiping may have a momentary rush of pleasure, in the end it brings nothing but destruction in it’s horrific wake. Love and forgive just as Christ loves and forgives us. May we all undergo the chemotherapy of God to rid ourselves of this cancer in our lives.


[1] Matthew Mitchell, Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue (Fort Washington: CLC Publications, 2013), 15.
[2] Ibid., 27.

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Matthew Poole – Gossip

200px-Matthew_Poole “He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor; nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor.” Psalm 15:3

Among the many sins for which God is contending with England, and especially with the professors of religion in it, I doubt not but one, and that none of the least, is, the gross misgovernment of their tongues. The abuses of the tongue are many, one whereof is the malignity of it. And whereas in David’s time a malignant and virulent tongue was the badge and cognizance of an atheist: “Behold, they belch-out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear? “Psalms 59.7; now, alas! this spot is become the spot of God’s children, and high professors of religion. A man can scarce come into any company, but his ears shall be filled with censures, detractions, reproaches; party against party, person against person. Instead of that old Christian love and charity for which the ancient Christians were noted and applauded even by their adversaries, ” Behold,” said they, “how the Christians love one another!” men’s hearts are generally full of rancor, and their tongues of sharp reflections, contemptuous and reproachful expressions, censures, and slanders, against their absent, and ofttimes innocent and more worthy, brethren. This is the disease which I would endeavor to administer some physic to from these words.

The coherence is plain. David proposeth a question: “Lord, who shall abide in your tabernacle ? Who shall dwell in your holy hill?” (Psalm 15.1) By which you may understand either Sion, where the ark then was, or Moriah, where the temple was to be built; and by either of them, the church of God here, and especially the heavenly temple hereafter.

So that it is as if David had said, and asked, ” What is the qualification of the true members of God’s church, of the citizens of the New Jerusalem? By what properties are they known and distinguished from other men ? ” To this, David does not answer, that they are so differenced by their high talks, by their crying-out upon the sins of other men, or the wickedness of the times by their frequent attendance at God’s tabernacle; but by the uprightness of their hearts, by the good government of their tongues, by the holiness of their lives: ” He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” verse 2.) And in this third-verse that I have now read: He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor.” It is the last Clause which I intend to speak to, because it will comprehend the former: “Nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor.” The Words I Shall explain in the handling of the doctrine, which is this:–

DOCTRINE: It is the duty, and must be the care, of every true Christian, not to take up a reproach against his neighbor. I shall first explain the point, then prove it, and lately apply it

I. For EXPLANATION, three things are to be inquired into:–

QUESTION I. ” Who is my neighbor ? “–There are some men of fame in the world that will tell you, that, ” in the language of the Old Testament, by ‘neighbor’ is to be understood’ one of the same country and religion,’ popularins Israelita; ” and it is the peculiarity of the gospel, that every man is made my neighbor. But if we examine Scripture, we shall find this to be a gross mistake. I need not go farther for the confutation of it than to the Decalogue itself: ” You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exod. 20. 16.) I suppose it will seem a very hard saying to affirm, that it is lawful to bear false witness against a stranger. So when God commands, ” You shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife,” (Lev. 18. 20) I presume these gentlemen would not allow themselves that liberty with the wife of a stranger. If God may be his own interpreter, this controversy will quickly be ended from Lev. 19., where, if you compare two verses,–verse 18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” with verse 34, “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; “–you will not need the help of an artist to form this conclusion, that” the stranger is, in God’s account, and ought to be in mine account, my neighbor.” To the same purpose you may please to compare two other places of scripture together: Deut. 22. 4, “You shall not see your brother’s ass nor his ox fall down by the way, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him to lift them up again; ” With Exod. 23.4, 5: ” If you meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, you shall surely bring it hack to him again. If you see the ass of him that hate thee lying under his burden, you shall help with him.” He who is my ” brother, “which is nearer than a neighbor, in the one place, is mine ” enemy,” and he that ” hates me” in another place. And it is further observable to this end, that the Hebrew word and the Greek a “neighbor,” is usually rendered in Scripture by eteros ”another;” as: “He that loves another hath fulfilled the law, for the law saith, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom. 13. 8, 9.) Most true therefore is that of St. Augustine, Proximus est oamnis homo homini” Every man is a neighbor to any other man.” Nay, the more intelligent part of the Jews were of this opinion; and Kimchi upon these words saith, ” He is called my neighbor with whom I have any business.” And the scribe, of whom we read, Luke 10, knowing tile mistakes of many of his brethren, asks our Savior this question, ” Who is my neighbor ? ” (Verse 29.) And our savior gives him an answer, the sum of which is this, that even the Samaritan was to be looked upon as his ” neighbor.”

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Erik Raymond – How to Shut Down Gossip

shutterstock_236148223-e1430616283935 It seems that sometimes we deal with sin in the church with the same approach that the government deals with terrorism: It is impossible to remove it completely so we just kind of have to accept it and do our best to keep people safe.

Buttressed up against this common practice is the biblical teaching that sin is devastating. Let’s not forget that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), the price paid for redemption from sin is death (Rom. 5:6), the reality for the a believer is that they are dead to sin (Rom. 6:11), and the ongoing priority for Christians is to put sin to death (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5; Heb. 12:1-2). This includes all sin. Every. Single. One.


Gossip is one sin that seems to fall in the spiritual “No-Man’s Land” between passivity and vigilance. But this should not be. Gossip is the RPG that blasts holes in the fabric of the church. The way I see it every time someone gossips they injure at least 3 people: the one speaking, the one hearing, and the one being gossiped about. Add to this that gossip is usually not a one time deal but rather involves multiple conversations, we can quickly see how this is the Devil’s Ponzi scheme for getting rich on disunity and providing quick returns to those seeking to gratify the flesh.


Let’s be honest; we know what gossip is. It is speaking about someone in a way that defames, dishonors or otherwise hurts their character. Sometimes it is subtle, like grumbling about someone, and other times it is loud, like ranting about someone. Further, sometimes the content of what is said is true other times it is not. Either way, the person hearing does not need to know the information, they don’t benefit from it. And, most times it is not actionable; they are not going to go and help the person, instead they are just going to tuck away the information for selfish use.

Gossip, and its cousins: slander, divisive speech, and deceitful speech are roundly rebuked in the Scriptures (Ps. 101:5; Prov. 6:16-19, 11.13, 20:19; Titus 3:2). Instead of cutting people down with verbal assassinations we are to give words of life and grace (Eph. 4:29).

I don’t think we need to convince people what it is, but, we can bring an awareness of how God feels about it and how destructive it is in the life of the church. We need to know what to do about it. We need to know, how to shut it down.

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