Special Note: This article is included in Jim’s book “Christian Devotions & Quick Studies” along with 33 other articles and is available for purchase in Hardback, Paperback and eBook formats at this link: Jim’s Books
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
See all of Jim’s Books.
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
Southern Gospel Music by The Good News:
- Listen to The Good News – includes over 2 hours of southern gospel music recorded by The Good News quartet; once you are there scroll down and click on the tune you want to hear. Share “the good news” from The Good News with your friends.
Your postings are greatly appreciated. I ‘became’ gay when a woman at the church decided to tell everyone that I was. I’ve taken a lot of bullying because of it, from her and others. It is wrong for me to be gay and am not welcomed at the church anymore. I am not gay! Just because that ‘woman’ said it, doesn’t make it truth. I have stopped going to church to stop the gossip, says to avoid going to places that they are gossiping about you in the Bible. Says it’s the only way to ‘stop the gossip’ and eventually they will only have themselves to gossip about.
I miss going to church, praising the Lord with others, volunteering and belonging to prayer groups. I am celibate (have been for years, as well as heterosexual) and praying for them. I hope you will pray for them too, as it’s a horrible thing they have done to me and will do to others. How can I prove that I am celibate? How can I prove I am heterosexual? I guess I could have sex with a single man and hope he boasts about it at church? ah.. that is not going to happen! lol… I am alone and have no proof. I can not prove it. I am ‘guilty’ of bringing my sister to church a few times, as well as my daughters. Perhaps that is what made them believe her when she would say that I was gay? I don’t know. I ask you for prayer for them and for me too.
God bless you all and thanks again for your postings!
Hi thank for this feedback,please know that the Lord lives you so much.He knows us more than we know ourselves.The Lord will never forsake us.Have a strong relationship with Him and do not have any fear for He has given you a spirit of boldness and not a spirit of fear,right now you are helping and encouraging many others with the same problem,satan wants you to be alone and feel alone,you are dearly loved and favoured by the most high God.Have blessed day in the presence of the Lord.Amen
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Alita, you are not alone as a victim of the rumor mill in the church. Thousands of others have read this post and have similar issues with such. Since you have already left the offending church you should seek a new congregation. The offending party that spread the rumors in your previous church will have to answer to God for her false accusations. My best advice … turn your situation over to the Lord and let Him handle it for you. God is able to handle ALL of our needs. We do not have to face the world on our own. Get involved in a new church group and let Jesus work through you there. Let your actions be those that originate through the Holy Spirit indwelling you. Jim D.
What if you’re stuck in the middle of someone’s believed truth (Accusations), and the denial? Asking God for strength to see the light, but its a huge stuggle. Almost unbearable.
Katy, sounds like a really tough situation for you. Unfounded accusations often repeated take on a life of their own. When it is repeated and repeated the accusation continues to hurt. My mother used to tell me as a child two things that I never understood until I was older and immersed in the Word of God. One saying was the old standard “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The other one was “When you don’t hear anything, don’t say anything.” While these are certainly not Biblical quotes they do contain some element of truth. Some comments and accusations are not worth a reply. You know the truth. God knows the truth. He understands your situation. He will provide a way to see you through this trial. He will take on your burden.
If you have a trusted pastor friend may I suggest that you seek counseling from he and his wife if possible. It is always best for you to meet with them together for the protection of both your reputation and theirs.
Don’t despair. Turn your burden over to Jesus. He will carry the burden for you. Here are some verses of wisdom from Matthew’s gospel in an easy to read version:
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
28 “Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. 29 Accept my teaching.[a] Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest. 30 Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light.”
Hope this helps.
what do you do when someone spreads someone spreads defamatory lies about you,you start feeling like an outcast.
Lavona, my article gives advice to those on the receiving end of defamatory lies/gossip. Joseph stayed true to God throughout his lifetime even as Potiphar’s wife spread malicious lies about Joseph. This is a good example for you. Lashing out at the accuser does little God. If you are already a Christian turn the problem over to God through prayer and trust Him to solve it. If you are not yet a Christian, then read my article on how to “Become a Christian” featured on all of my website pages. Then friend the problem over to The Lord for a solution.
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The emphasis on gossiping is always needed since managing our tongues is extremely challenging. Thus a reminder is to control our tongue is necessary. However, if you are on the other end of gossiping, just remember what we were taught when we were in grade school ” Sticks and stones may hurt my bones and words will never hurt me.” I know this is very basic but sometimes the basics work as well as the complex.Jim, I encourage you to write and preach from your heart because for our family your words and messages are very uplifting. Thanks.
John and Judy, as usual your comments are so right on. I love the analogy of “sticks and stones”. My Mom used that with me repeatedly when I was a boy. Later she morphed into saying something like “If you don’t hear nothing, then don’t say nothing.” I wondered for a while as a youngster what she really meant by that. Words did hurt … I did hear them! It was hard to ignore them and say nothing! It was only after I was an adult with children that I think I fully understood the “sticks and stones” and “if you don’t…” sayings that my Mom pounded into me. God bless you both and as long as God keeps giving me words I will continue to write. Jim D.
Thanks for the post. Gossip is easy to fall into and difficult to get out of too. Well written and scripturally founded.
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