“Kemi, what’s up now?”, the ever chatty Tade asked her best friend.
“Nothing o, I’m just there.” Kemi responded, tired.
“Have you heard?”
“Heard what?”, wide-eyed and alert, Kemi leaned forward for some gist from her friend.
“That Bola is pregnant.” Tade said grinning with satisfaction of bringing her friend alive, “Bola, our Pastor’s daughter”, she added, seeing the slight confusion on her friend’s face.
“Aaahh! That’s sad o. I always knew that girl was promiscuous, always pretending as if she’s better than all of us.” Bola hissed.
“I know right! I try not to sin o, but fornication is just on a whole other level of sin that even I can’t do abeg.” Tade added, irritated.
The above conversation is a classic scenario of gossip between two seeming Christians. The issue of gossip is one that’s theoretically accepted to be bad and immoral among Christians and non-Christians alike but also one that’s ignored during the very practice of it. It’s like knowing that a meal is particularly unhealthy for you but eating it still without guilt.
Wikipedia defines gossip as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” In addition, Joseph Solomon, a christian poet and artist described gossip in a YouTube video as “unbeneficial communication about someone who is not there to personally defend themselves” and honestly, I think, that’s the bedrock and guide to what is or isn’t gossip whenever a conversation is going on.
So why is gossip a big deal?
Gossip isn’t just talking about someone behind their back. It may or may not be just that.
Paul said in 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.”
If what is being talked about is not beneficial to the person being talked about and the person who is listening, then it is gossip.
You most likely can’t say it to their face anyway. If you are about to listen to or disseminate a piece of information, evaluate the direction of the conversation. Is it wholesome for me to talk about? Does it build up the person being talked about? As a listener, does it benefit me? If you can’t answer these questions in the affirmative, then whatever you have to talk about is most likely gossip.
As opposed to popular belief, gossip isn’t always false. Bola, in the earlier conversation, might have actually been pregnant, and became so through “promiscuity”. However, it’s still imperative that if the conversation isn’t wholesome or beneficial, it’s gossip. If you partake in gossip (sharing or listening), you’re really not any different from the “sinner”, you’re talking about. Talking about someone in an unbeneficial manner makes you self-righteous, makes you seem better than the other person. Like Tade and Kemi, up there, they can do anything but commit fornication so in their eyes, they are “lord” over Bola in righteousness.
Take note; Self-righteousness = Pride (consciously or unconsciously) and remember, God despises the proud.
Gossip is even worse when it’s false, whether you know it or not. You’re plain old telling and spreading a lie. It can even be more serious when it becomes a legal issue of libel, slander and defamation of character. (Hopefully, things don’t escalate to that level). If you’re listening to gossip, you’re equally guilty.
Exo. 23:1 says “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.”
Beware of moments where you’re spreading or listening to gossip in disguise as pity to the person in question. If it’s unbeneficial, stop it.
Trust, one of the vital elements for any type of relationship to function, is severed when gossip is present.
Flat rule of thumb: when you gossip, people don’t trust you. Your listener(s) might seem to enjoy your juicy conversation at the moment, but they definitely won’t trust you with issues of their lives because you probably won’t keep their “secrets”, since you spread others’, maliciously.
The book of Proverbs in the Bible has this point scattered all over it and chapter 11:13 says “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” The person(s) being talked about, whether they find out or not, is being extremely hurt and “stabbed in the back”. This is not good.
Across the Bible, we can draw more and more examples of how God doesn’t like gossip but how everything we say about our brothers and sisters in Christ, and everyone else, should be unto edification.
So what part do you play in stopping gossip?
Don’t spread it!
That’s as simple as it can be sometimes. This is especially applicable in ugly situations and scandals involving celebrities or people of God. Most times, things aren’t what they seem but even if they are, don’t spread gossip. As an active listener, it might be sweet gist at the moment, but discipline yourself to discern where a conversation is headed and immediately withdraw from it.
It’s really not too much to say, “I don’t think I should hear or talk about this right now” and nip it in the bud.
Sometimes, in a group conversation, a name or topic might come up and that may start leading to gossip, be that one person in the group that stops it. You can sharply, or subtly change the topic, or out-rightly point out that the conversation is becoming gossip. If all that fails, leave the group setting for a while. You may seem too much at first, but honestly, people would come to respect and trust you for that and you also help yourself because no one would directly bring gossip to you anymore. You teach other people too because some people honestly and innocently don’t know what gossip is.
Conversations about people that are wholesome and can be said to their faces if it comes to it, identify and engage in those kinds. There are some issues however, where caution should be taken. If you hear something about someone which is disturbing and potentially detrimental, kindly report to the appropriate authorities in that situation, so it can be taken care of.
Don’t live life in constant fear that you’re gossiping, let the Holy Spirit guide and convict you.
A prayer request for someone in a prayer meeting, for example, isn’t gossip because it’s beneficial, as the matter is being taken to God and is building them up. (Most prayer requests remain anonymous anyway, but some aren’t). If you get wary of an issue concerning a person, pray for that person and talk to them, if you can, or get another person who can. That way, you’re helping or saving them rather than just gossip about them and cause more mayhem for everybody.
Repent and restitute, if you can, from any form of gossip you’ve been part of and pray for wisdom to handle any situation around this issue that may come up in the future.
I hope you got something from this? Do leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog to not miss a post.