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woman tells man a secret June 2 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Proverbs 25, 26, 27

Is Gossip so Bad?

Hee Haw is an American television variety show featuring country music and humor with fictional rural Kornfield Kounty as a backdrop. It aired on CBS-TV from 1969–1971 before a 20-year run in local syndication. One of the scenarios from the show featured various female members of the cast surrounding a washtub and clothes wringer singing:

"Now, we're not ones to go 'round spreadin' rumors, Why, really we're just not the gossipy kind, No, you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip, So you'd better be sure and listen close the first time!"*

We laugh at that song. Then, of course, the comedy routine continues with juicy morsels of “truth” shared about their neighbors, and again we all laugh. But is gossip funny? Is it harmless?

Between 971 and 931 B.C. Solomon was king over Israel. He was considered the wisest man who had ever lived (and the wealthiest). The LORD gave him great insight into all of life, and people came from great distances to listen to him. Let's look at what King Solomon had to say in Proverbs about gossip.

Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise,” (NIV). Do we talk too much? If we talk too much it is tempting to gossip. Gossip is like a box of someone else’s candy that is ready to be opened. It is so tempting to take one, even when we know we shouldn’t open it. In the same way, we know we shouldn’t open up other people’s lives and let others see what are in the wrapped morsels. However, we know the stories are juicy and sweet, and we can’t resist. When people have nothing worthwhile to say, they often gossip, adding their own flavor to a story with hope that it will be juicy and sweet to the taste. We need to get busy serving the LORD and reading his Word, and then we will have praise on our lips, instead of sinful delicacies.

Proverbs 11:13 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret,” (NIV). Proverbs 20:19 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much,” (NIV). Perhaps we do not talk too much, but we know someone who does. We certainly do not want to tell them secrets, even if we might consider them good friends in other ways. If they gossip about others, they will sooner or later gossip about us. We should not listen to a gossip; there are many things that we just do not need to know. Sometimes knowing this “extra information” can cause our feelings to change about a person, whether what is shared is true or false.

What are some ways to stop a gossip? First, Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down,” (NIV). In other words, if you know additional information or rumors about a person, consider how sharing it with others might be harmful to them; do not add fuel to the fire. Second, avoid making friends with a gossip. Third, rebuke the gossiper. Challenge him by asking if what he shared is absolutely true and ask why he is sharing it with you. This will usually stop the gossip in his tracks.

You may have heard or repeated this common saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words [a later variation, “names” ] will never harm me.” ** Is this true, or do words really hurt people? Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing,” (NIV). Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends,” (NIV). Proverbs 18:8 (and 26:22) says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts,” (NIV). Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin,” (NIV). Is gossip harmful? Yes! Without a doubt it is damaging. Often gossip is shared with the express purpose to hurt others. The tongue of the wise, however, brings healing, not hurt.

How will we use our tongues, for good or for evil, for healing or for hurting? Christians are redeemed from evil practices. A gossiper behaves like the devil who is called “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:9,10). In the book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul says,

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Ephesians 4:20-25, NIV)

We certainly don't want to be like the Devil - we want to be like Christ! Jesus can forgive our sins, give us peace and spiritual life (more...). Jesus can help us change our speech. Let's use our tongue for building each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Lessons to live by:

  • If we talk too much it is tempting to gossip.
  • A gossip betrays a confidence and should not be trusted
  • A gossip brings much harm by his words
  • To stop a gossip, don’t add fuel to the fire, avoid making friends with him, and rebuke him.
  • The tongue of the wise brings healing, not hurt.
  • Let's use our tongue for building each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)

*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

** The Christian Recorder of March 1862, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church ; from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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