Justin Taylor points out some fantastic resources for dealing with gossip that infects our relationships, churches, and ministries.
A good reminder is helpful for the difference between gossip and flattery. Rev. Dr. Kent Hughes explains the difference:
Gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face.
Flattery means saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.
Once we have this in mind, here are five questions to ask to deflate gossip before it can balloon into a problem:
- Why are you telling me this?
- What is the difference between this and gossip?
- How is what you’re telling me going to help us love God and our brothers better, and knit us closer together as a church in Christ’s love?
- Now that you’ve told me about this, what are you going to do about it?
- Now that you’ve told me about that, you’ve morally obligated me to make sure you talk to ____ about it. How long do you think you need, so I can know when this becomes a sin that I will need to confront in you?
Read the article here for a full explanation of each question, and how to practically use them when someone shares information with you that might be gossip
And secondly, Ray Ortlund points out why gossip is so tempting for us:
Gossip is our dark moral fervor eagerly seeking gratification.
Gossip makes us feel important and needed as we declare our judgments.
It makes us feel included to know the inside scoop.
It makes us feel powerful to cut someone else down to size, especially someone we are jealous of.
It makes us feel righteous, even responsible, to pronounce someone else guilty.
Gossip can feel good in multiple ways. But it is of the flesh, not of the Spirit.
. . . Gossip is a sin rarely disciplined but often more socially destructive than the sensational sins.
Gossip leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube.
It erodes trust and destroys morale.
Read his whole article for more problems with gossip, as well as what to do about it.
May the sin of gossip be destroyed and not even named in Christ’s Church, and may tough and tender grace be the tool the Spirit uses to eradicate the infection!