Having traveled across this country and worshiped with and visited with
so many of our great people in our brotherhood, I know in my heart, that
when I am among my brethren, I am with the greatest people on the face
of this earth. Among my brethren are the saved ones, those who will
rise to meet the Lord in the air at the end of time, the ones with whom
I will spend eternity if I too am faithful. So, because of this, I try
often to refrain from speaking negatively about our brotherhood, but
rather speak highly of them; for despite our shortcomings, our very
existence as the church is the showing forth of God's infinite wisdom.
Notwithstanding, we do have our problems; one of those is the sin of
gossip. There's probably not a single person who hasn't either been
guilty of gossiping (myself included) or who hasn't been exposed to it.
So, I'd like for us to consider together six steps that I believe will
help stop the spread of gossip among us in the church.
Step One: Accept as truth that gossip is wrong
Gossip is wrong because it is behavior that ignores the Bible
instruction concerning how to resolve one on one conflict or individual
concerns about another person. In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus commands,
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him
his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast
gained thy brother. BUT if he will not hear thee, then take with thee
one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word
may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto
the church: BUT if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee
as a heathen man and a publican.
Gossip is wrong because it needlessly destroys good reputations of well
meaning, God-fearing people often spread unrighteous judgments on
matters about which the facts are not known.
The Bible teaches that a good name is something to be desired and
treasured. The wise man Solomon writes, "The memory of the just is
blessed: BUT the name of the wicked shall rot" (Proverbs 10:7). Again
he says in Proverbs 22:1, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great
riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold." When he gives
his admonition on life Solomon says, "A good name is better than
precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth"
That doesn't mean we go around praising ourselves to build ourselves up
in the eyes of others. Jesus taught that we are not to seek our own
glory, BUT to glorify God. Jesus said, "He that speaketh of himself
seeketh his own glory: BUT he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the
same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him" (John 7:18).
When we have brethren among us, about whom we and the community can
speak highly, this is an asset to the cause, because such brings glory
to God's ways. There is nothing more discouraging or embarrassing to
us, the representatives of the Cause, than when very negative things are
mentioned by people of the world about our brethren with whom they have
interacted or had business dealings. A good name, however, brings glory
to God and the cause!
A good name may be all someone really has going for them in life. Don't
tear it down based on someone else's impression of them, or what they
heard about them. Don't even assume that your first impression of their
behavior or words is accurate. How often we are misunderstood by each
other! And how often are those misunderstandings not taken to the
person involved, BUT instead passed on to the wrong people by means of
Jesus, who was often Himself the victim of much unrighteous judgement
and character assassination, taught us to judge righteous judgements,
not according to appearance. To go around telling what we merely hear
have been another person's short-comings or problems violates Jesus'
teaching concerning judging. Usually our telling about it is done
without verify the facts, and it is told to others that have no need to
know. Amazingly, there is much judging going on these days that is based
on "appearance" which it turns out many times to be based only on what
somebody has said! Continuing on with what Jesus taught in John 7 --
"Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?
Why go ye about to kill me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a
devil: who goeth about to kill thee? Jesus answered and said unto them,
I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you
circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye
on the Sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the Sabbath day
receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye
angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath
day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous
judgment" (Verses 19-24).
Gossip is wrong because it lays a stumbling block of offense in the
paths of brethren, by making it difficult to obey the command to love
the brotherhood. Your Bible says, "Honour all men. Love the
brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king" (1 Peter 2:17).
Gossip is wrong because being involved in this does not obey the command
to love your brother (John 3:23). We are not commanded to like
everyone, BUT we are commanded to love everyone. Loving another
requires a certain code of conduct completely irrelevant of whether we
like that person or not. Even if you don't like the idea, your brother
or sister is worthy of your time and effort to deal properly with
gossip about them when that gossip comes your way.
Gossip is wrong because it doesn't obey the "Golden Rule" given by
Christ in Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that
men should do to you, do ye even so to them." When you improperly handle
information from someone who gossips, you are doing things to the person
the gossip is about that you would not want done to yourself.
Gossip is wrong because it is usually the result of a selfish vaunting
of one's self, and the lack of self-denial. "Love vaunteth not
itself" (1 Corinthians 13:4).
With a wrong attitude toward gossip, it may be hard for you not to
gossip about those whom you don't like or who have hurt you. To gossip
about things that would damage someone else's reputation helps the
gossiper look better in the eyes of others, or so he thinks. To
refrain from gossiping about my enemies or the ones I dislike or who
dislike me involves a certain amount of self-denial. This is especially
true when I might be now, or have been, a victim of their gossip, and
feel they're making me look bad, and I have to refrain from saying
anything about them!? It is hard to see with the eye of faith that
their behavior is only making them look bad and exposes their own
Gossip is wrong because it does not exercise temperance or self-control
as required by 2 Peter 1:6.
If I can't do the right thing with such information, because I just
can't control this overwhelming desire to share something that I just
can't keep to myself, then I've got a problem. It's called a lack of
self-control which results in a cancer that eats away at hearts and
minds of others around us and across our brotherhood who either enjoy or
are subjected to the same despicable behavior.
So the first step in stopping the flow of gossip is to accept in our own
mind that gossip is wrong, and we can go to a Devil's hell for indulging
Step Two: When someone comes to you with gossip, recognize it for what
Gossip, simply defined, is the sharing of potentially damaging
information about someone's problem with someone else who will have
nothing whatsoever to do with the solving of the problem.
Many times we innocently find ourselves involved in conversations
initiated by others that are dominated by gossip before we even realize
it. BUT there are many warning signs that can help us to realize that
gossip is about to take place.
One tell-tale sign that someone may be about to gossip is when they
preface their remarks by asking you not to "share" what they're going to
tell you with anyone else! They might say, "I've got something to tell
you, BUT you've got to promise that you won't tell anyone else."
Sometimes it's not even this obvious; some times very little warning
signs are given. The individual may come across as very concerned for
the one about whom he/she is about to gossip; he may in fact BE very
concerned about that person, BUT does not know what to do with the
information, or may just be worrying out loud. They may not have any
intention to do any harm; they may not even realize they are gossiping,
or how seriously wrong gossip really is. So walk circumspectly. "So
did you hear about so-in-so?" may be the only warning you get. If you
don't recognize the warning signs, or then recognize gossip for what it
is, you might say, "What about so-in-so?" and then receive information
you don't need, wish you didn't have, and worse, as a result, feel
uncertain about what to do with the information.
Step Three: If a person says there is a problem they need to talk to
you about, try to determine first whether or not the problem is about
you, or them, involves you or them, or should really concern you.
If it's not about you, and you couldn't or wouldn't be directly involved
in the solution to the problem, then they don't need to be discussing it
with you! They need to be discussing it with the person involved in the
Step Four: Strongly encourage the person to obey Jesus' instruction to
go to the brother with whom they have ought.
If this gossip came to them from someone else, then they should have
ought with the one from whom they received the gossip. In other words,
take the information back to the one who shared it with you with the
insistence that they do the same. The information need not have been
passed to anyone not involved in the solving of the problem in the first
place. So whoever started the gossip chain, whoever started the rumor,
should've simply gone to the person the matter involved in the first
place, as Jesus teaches.
Step Five: If anyone ever tells you they need your advice about
sensitive information they have, and it's not about you, and you would
not be in any position to be involved in the matter's solution, then
don't try to pry for more details about the situation.
Just tell that person they need to go to the one they are concerned
about themselves, and deal with it between the two of them alone. If
they have already done that and could not reach a solution, then it may
be that they need someone to go with them to the brother or sister as
Jesus teaches; BUT that someone may not need to be you! Only after
they have made efforts to solve the problem would there be the need to
involve anyone else, and the one or ones they involve need to be those
who could actually help resolve the situation according to Matthew18.
Step Six: If a person is only interested in gossiping, and is not
interested in doing the right thing with the information, then refuse to
engage the person in any further conversation about the matter.
Remember, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners" (1
Corinthians 15:33), and the Bible commands, "Let no corrupt
communication proceed out of your mouth, BUT that which is good to the
use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And
grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of
redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and
evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind
one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for
Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as
dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath
given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a
sweetsmelling savour" (Ephesians 4:29-5:2).
Finally we cite this commandment "But now ye also put off all these;
anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his
deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after
the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor
Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor
free: BUT Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of
God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind,
meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one
another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave
you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is
the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,
to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful"
In conclusion, I encourage you to read the third chapter of James.
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