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Since I wrote and posted my original blog “On Christians Spreading Rumors and Gossip in the Church” in early June, 2011, (On Christians Spreading Rumors and Gossip in the Church) it has by far become the most visited article in my collection. That tells me something … the problem of spreading rumors and gossip in the local church must be very troubling to a significant number of people. So I have decided to add some additional insight and scriptures on the topic for those who are seeking guidance on how to best deal with such a problem in their local church.
Based on feedback I have received regarding the post some seem to be a little confused as to what actually constitutes “gossip” and “rumors”. The Hebrew word for “gossip” is lashon hara which means an evil tongue and generally refers to a making a critical/derogatory remark or statement about someone. Even if the gossip has an element of truth, the Bible clearly teaches we should guard our tongues and intentionally refrain from spreading that gossip. Lashon hara is serious business to Jews and it is serious business to God Almighty. Gossip is related in many aspects to slander and even man’s laws treat the act of slander and defamation of character very seriously. The Bible is chock full of condemnation and advice on spreading rumors and gossip. It is an age-old problem and it can destroy the mission and witness of the local church.
Scriptures (all NIV unless otherwise noted):
Below are some additional scriptures not addressed in my previous post. In these verses Solomon repeatedly provides advice for his son Rehoboam and to us in the book of Proverbs; Moses expounds on how spreading false reports violates the Law; Paul provides advice to the new converts in the church at Thessalonica; Nehemiah relates how his enemies used twisted lies to attempt to subvert him while he led the successful rebuilding of the walls of the city of Jerusalem in just fifty-two days; David repeatedly shows his heart toward lying and guarding our tongue in his Psalms.
- Proverbs 20:19 – A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.
- Proverbs 16:28 – A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
- Proverbs 18:7-8 – The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.
- Proverbs 21:23 – Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
- Exodus 23:1 – Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 – and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
- Nehemiah 6:12-13 – “I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.”
- Psalm 5:9 – Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.
- Psalm 15:2-3 – The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others.
- Psalm 34:12-13 – Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.
- Additional verses for those wishing to dig further into the topic: Psalms 17:3; Psalms 59:12-13; Psalms 101:5; Prov 8:13; Prov 15:4; Prov 16:28; Prov 20:19
The above verses speak for themselves. But I am also reminded of an additional situation faced by one of God’s champions. In Genesis 37:2-36; 39:1-23 the Bible records a remarkable event in the life of young Joseph in Egypt. Joseph’s spotless reputation and character was stolen as a result of the intentional gossip and lies by Potiphar’s wife and her servants. Yet, Joseph remained faithful and obedient to God rather than become angry and vindictive. Do you identify with this? If this happened to you would you follow Joseph’s example or would you work to get even? Just look at the results of Joseph’s choice to be obedient in honoring God. God’s favor remained with him and stayed on him though he was wrongly imprisoned and over time Joseph continued to prosper.
Let’s face it, when we gossip, listen to gossip and/or spread rumors we are knowingly participating in and condoning a destructive purpose that can result in character assassination. Could it be that the gossiper has a need to feel good about themselves by disparaging the character and reputation of others? I most certainly think so!
Jesus faced and dealt directly with the Pharisees in their attempts to trap him with His own words. Matthew (22:15-22) and Mark (3:1-6) record these events in their gospels. Jesus called them hypocrites in Matthew and Mark says that Jesus “looked around at them in anger and (was) deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts …” I believe this is how Jesus looks at us when we participate in spreading gossip and rumors.
If you didn’t read my first post on this subject, then I encourage you to do so by clicking on the link mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog.
Related Articles by Jim Davenport on this subject:
- On Christians Spreading Rumors and Gossip in the Church
- A Recollection – Pine Lake Baptist Church Fire – June, 1996
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- Christian Devotions & Quick Studies – Hardback, Paperback, eBook
- Thanksgiving Day – Religious to Secular – Paperback, eBook
Other Christian Articles by Jim Davenport:
- All of Jim’s Christian Articles
- The Spindly Grapevine
- Our Source of Courage
- Be Strong in The Lord
- God is Faithful
- Our Comforter
- God Will Provide
- In His Time
- God’s Solution for Anxiety
- Facing Tough Times
- Is Anything too Hard for God?
- Do Not Fear
- An Anchor in the Time of the Storm
- His Grace is Sufficient for Me
- Become A Christian
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