I am compelled to write my first “Fellowship Wednesday” post about what I believe is the most poisonous thing to a fellowship of believers — gossip.
As pastor of a former church I spent time in the office meeting with people. One day a man came in for a chat. On the way out afterwords he said, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t tell you this but…”. And I stopped him cold. “Then don’t tell me.”, I said. He persisted, “No really, I shouldn’t tell you this but…”. So I said, “No really… don’t tell me.” and started to walk away. He walked after me. I started running. He started running after me yelling, “I shouldn’t tell you this… but I want to tell you!!!”. I literally ran him out the door trying to avoid gossip!
Gossip is deadly. It destroys trust between people and therefore kills friendships. If left alone it can cripple ministries and destroy good leaders. I hate gossip, and so does God.
I’ve been around the effects of pervasive gossip among believers, and it breaks my heart. Most of us know how much it hurts to be talked about behind our backs, the damage it can do to a community, and how much it grieves God, but so many still get caught up in it. It’s like Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels…” Sometimes we’re in the middle of the conversation, and half swallowed the morsel, before we even realize what we’re doing!
I think part of the reason is that we don’t know what gossip is. Let’s take a look at what scripture says it is:
- Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence…” Anytime someone shares something they heard privately, it is gossip.
- Proverbs 16:28 – “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” Anyone sharing information to embarrass a person, cause division in a group, or harm a relationship is gossiping.
- Proverbs 26:20 – “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” Anyone sharing a problem that is already being (or has been) dealt with is gossiping.
Romans 1:29 (among other places) says that gossip is evil. A strong fellowship must be free of gossip. If you find yourself around gossip, take a page out of Joseph’s book and just run away from it. Let us all be careful with our words and to bring our concerns to God first, and then to the person we have an issue with. More info here.
What about you? Are you a gossip? Have you been gossiped about? How far have you gone to avoid gossiping?