So why write on this subject? … BECAUSE … nothing hurts a church more than the spreading of false rumors and gossip. Being honest with ourselves, all Christians must admit that at one time or another we have spread rumors. It might be something that is done quietly without serious intent, among just a few “close” friends. What may start off as a somewhat innocent statement can fast become something else as folks down the line add a little spin and/or twist when passing it on the next person. Sometimes the spin and/or twist is intentional … meant to drive home a point, tear down a reputation, or simply put someone’s integrity into question. Let me be quite frank, spreading gossip and rumors are a major tool of the devil.
Long-time Christians have probably heard countless sermons over their lifetime on the dangers of spreading rumors and gossip. Have you become calloused and immune to the topic? Are you too smug to admit that you might be contributing to the problem by either passing along the rumor/gossip or not stopping it in its tracks. Or, are you just pious enough to believe that only others are guilty of this sin?
I’m not a preacher or church staff person. I’m simply a Christian business man, a regular member of my church with a lot of chronological years to my credit. So my thoughts about spreading rumors and gossip don’t come from an exhaustive Biblical study done in a seminary. However, the Bible is absolutely clear on the subject. God thought enough about the topic to include it as the Ninth Commandment. There is absolutely NO room for misinterpretation. Rumors and gossip are sinful and do tremendous damage to the ministry and work of the church.
Scriptures (all NIV unless otherwise noted):
Read these scriptures for yourself and then you decide if you are presently guilty of this sin and in need of repentance.
- Exodus 20:16 – “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (KJV)
- Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.”
- Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”
- Romans 1:29 – “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.”
- 1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”
- Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
- Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
The following scriptures provide sound advice on how to personally avoid being involved in passing along rumors and gossip and how to stop it in its tracks. The list is in no way exhaustive … just representative.
- Proverbs 26:20 – “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”
- Deuteronomy 13:14 – “Then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (KJV)
- I Thessalonians 5:21 – “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (KJV)
Even the life of Jesus was subject to hurtful rumor and gossip. Matthew records the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:18-19 (KJV) as He recounts the nasty and sinful statements made about John the Baptist and the Lord Himself: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners …”
Each of us needs to look deep into our lives and hearts. We need to ask, “Is it I, Lord?” “Am I a gossip? Am I spreading rumors and gossip because of jealousy, vengeance, vanity or self-justification. Am I quietly involved in this “secret” sin? Is my family, my friends, or my church suffering because I am passing along half-truths, rumors and gossip?
The Bible teaches us that spreading rumors and gossip is sinful. It is particularly harmful to the church. It is an unhealthy activity that can unnecessarily bring about unjustified harm to church leadership and the Lord’s mission for the church.
You can take immediate action to halt the “rumor mill” in your church by stopping the spread of gossip in its tracks. If you make this a standard practice in your everyday behavior, others will follow your leadership. Kindly tell those spreading rumors that nothing good can result from such and that you don’t make a practice of participating in the rumor mill. Insinuations, gossip and half-truths when repeated often enough somehow become believable … even to the person responsible for initiating the information.
As I close this article, I am reminded of Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” This verse convicts me. I am committed to doing what is right in the sight of God. Does it convict you?
Related Articles by Jim Davenport on this subject:
- Revisiting: On Christians Spreading Rumors and Gossip in the Church
- A Recollection – Pine Lake Baptist Church Fire – June, 1996
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