Most girls love to talk! :) And talking about other people tends to be one our favorite topics as young ladies. It’s interesting to note that in His Word, God speaks specifically about women who gossip (1 Timothy 5:13-14). We have a tendency to talk negatively about other people and not even think about what we’re saying. So that’s why our lesson last night was on the topic of gossip.
The Bible has a lot to say about this topic, but since it doesn’t always specifically use the word gossip, we started out by defining some terms that we find in Scripture:
- Gossip – idle talk about the affairs of others
- Slander – false or damaging statements spoken with the intent of hurting another
- Talebearer – one who gossips or reveals secrets
- Whisperer – one spreads gossip or rumors
- Backbiting – malicious talk about someone not present
Gossip is very serious in God’s eyes. We shouldn’t take it lightly. In several places in the Bible, gossip is listed along with other very serious sins. These verses give us a good idea of what the Lord thinks about gossip: Rom. 1:29; 2 Cor. 12:20; Prov. 6:16-19; Lev. 19:16; Psalm 101:5
Gossip is very destructive: it spreads rumors and reveals secrets, it causes strife and conflict, it can ruin a person’s reputation, and it can ruin friendships – even between close friends. Gossip is extremely damaging in families, churches, and all other relationships. It may seem small, but the hurt, misunderstanding, anger, and divisions it causes often have disastrous consequences.
People gossip for a variety of reasons: they might have ulterior motives for doing it (like pride, bitterness, jealousy, or wanting the spotlight), or they might simply do it because its interesting or fun, like “tasty morsels” (Prov. 26:22). Gossip is very common, but that doesn’t make it right. We discussed some practical ways to deal with gossip in our lives:
What should we do when we’ve gossiped?
- Apologize to the person to whom you gossiped; let them know that what you did was wrong
- If appropriate (i.e. if its been repeated by others), apologize to the person whom you gossiped about
When someone apologizes for gossip you know that you can trust that person, because you know that they are committed to guarding their words, and if they make a mistake they are willing to clear it up. We want to have that testimony of being trustworthy. Also, since we know how hard it to apologize, this is an incentive not to gossip!
How do we stop gossiping (or avoid listening to gossip)?
- Memorize Scripture pertaining to words and gossip, and ask the Lord for His strength and help to guard your mouth.
- Steer clear of friends who constantly gossip (Prov. 20:19).
- Watch out for phrases that may signal gossip invading your conversation – “Don’t tell this to anyone else, but…”, “Did you hear about so-and-so…”, or “I don’t mean to say anything against so-and-so, but…”.
- Be careful of what questions you ask (i.e. don’t ask things that invite your friend to share gossip with you).
- Think of a nice way to explain to someone that you don’t want to be hearing their report – come up with a plan beforehand to help you be prepared if someone wants to share some gossip with you.
- Imagine that the person you are tempted to gossip about is standing next to you: would you say it if they could hear you?
Also, it’s important not to form our opinions of people simply by what we hear someone else say. Stories quickly get changed as it gets passed from person to person. Remember, when we hear something second-hand, we don’t know the whole picture.
How should we respond when others gossip about us?
- Rejoice! (Matthew 5:11-12)
- Give your reputation to God. We belong to Him and represent Him. He is able to protect our reputation.
One of the reasons that gossip is so dangerous is because it can be so subtle and can happen very easily. Often we gossip without even realizing what we are saying. Therefore we need to show much discernment and guard against it with vigilance. Our words are very powerful (Prov. 18:21) and we want to be very wise with how use them. Often times the effects of gossip can never be cleared up… once the words are spoken there’s no way to take them back and the damage is done.
If we get into the habit not gossiping while we are young, it will be pleasing to the Lord, and will save us a lot of trouble both now and in the future. We want to be “children of God, without fault” (Phil. 2:14-15) in this area of our lives. So my challenge to you is this: let’s guard against gossip in our own lives and in our Bright Lights group!
For our activity we divided into two teams and played a couple of different versions of “Telephone”. First, we played it the regular way, whispering a phrase from person to person. Next, we had one team turn their backs and acted out the word one at a time while the other team watched it change from person to person. And finally, the team had their backs turned again, as one person would act it out and the person would whisper it to the next person who would act it out and so on. Playing this game demonstrated how quickly a story can change as it is passed from person to person.
Playing the game:
Laughing at the results:
Although it was a smaller group, we enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship together as we sipped our tea and munched on our cookies. See you all in two weeks!