Studying ‘what does the Bible say about gossip’, helps us be intentional with what we say or don’t say, navigate relationships and grow spiritually. And the Bible is full of verses about our speech and gossip.
Since I am a talker the topic of gossip from a Biblical perspective has required a lot of attention! What about you? Does gossip seem to weave itself into your conversations?
Even though gossip disrupts friendships, it taunts us with an insatiable appetite to hear and provide solutions to other people’s problems.
Unfortunately, no one is immune to gossip. We all gossip and have been gossiped about. Even ‘good-hearted’ news about someone can be classified as gossip.
Understanding ‘what does the Bible say about gossip’ is important for your spiritual health and for growing in love and compassion for the people around you.
One day while on the phone with a new ‘friend’ the conversation quickly turned from fun interactions at school to another mom from the kindergarten class.
“Did you hear what Owen’s mom did?” Oh no, a pivotal point in our conversation.
We were new acquaintances and I was hoping we would become friends. She was heavily involved in my son’s school and would be an asset to know. And honestly, I craved to hear what ‘Owen’s mom did’ even though I didn’t really know Owen’s mom.
But I vividly remember that conversation because a prompting (thank you Holy Spirit!) told me to shut the conversation down and I actually listened.
Before I could hear the gossip, I apologetically told her I needed to end the call. She got the message and we did not become good friends.
I hate to admit it but this response has not always been the one I choose. Gossip is hard to pass up.
In this post, I hope to uncover what the bible says about gossip and how to handle gossip biblically.
“Jesus told the people not to tell anyone about this. But the more he told them not to say anything, the more people they told.”
Mark 7:36 ERV
What is Gossip?
To understand ‘what does the Bible say about gossip’, it helps to know the definition of gossip. If you are wondering, what is gossip, the best way to understand gossip is by remembering personal experiences when we have been the target of gossip.
- I remember the feeling of dread washing over me after walking by a group and noticing a sudden break in the conversation and awkward glances.
- I remember the sinking feeling when someone confided in me that a certain person was unsafe because what they said about me was unkind.
These types of memories help us understand gossip and steer us away from being someone that causes this type of pain to others.
Gossip is like eating carbohydrates. It ‘tastes’ good at the moment but leaves us bloated and craving more.
What does the bible say about gossip? It is not a good diet for the soul; gossip stunts spiritual growth and compromises trust in relationships.
A basic definition of gossip is “casual or unconstrained conversation about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”
There are some studies that divide gossip into positive or negative. Positive gossip could be classified as encouragement; inspiring news about someone that uplifts others.
“When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you.”
Ephesians 4:29 ERV
But even with positive news, not everyone wants their story shared. The true meaning of gossip does not have a positive side.
When we casually speak about another person without edifying and honoring them, we elevate ourselves at the expense of someone who isn’t there to defend themselves.
Firm confidence in our identity in Christ is how we begin to recognize, dismantle and avoid gossip.
The disciples and those who encountered Christ were deeply touched and amazed by Him and wanted to spread the good news. But Jesus warned them it was not the right time to share His story.
“And Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied to Him, “You [in contrast to the others] are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed).” Then Jesus strictly warned them not to tell anyone about Him.”
Mark 8:29-30 AMP
Types of Gossip
Types of gossip can be broken down in many ways. It is hard to think about the types of gossip because we feel convicted, but the purpose of outlining types of gossip is to lead us to self-actualization and growth not shame.
Here are a few types of gossip that cause distrust and brokenness in relationships.
5 Types of Gossip
- The first type of gossip is sharing a rumor or even truth about someone to start a conversation and feel important and relevant. We all desire to belong. The problem comes when we use other people to help us fit in. Sometimes rumors seem like truth but rumors are unsubstantiated. Regardless of the origin or authenticity of information if it is about another person, it is gossip.
- The second type of gossip is having a conversation and sharing details to feel understood or defend your side of a story. This type of gossip usually happens when there is conflict. We want to quickly get our version of events out there. Prayer is the best antidote to gossip especially when we feel wronged and are unsure of what to do.
- The third type of gossip is storytelling involving untruths or lies about someone else. This is also called slander. The Bible says gossip of this form is vindictive and rooted in evil. This type of gossip is probably the most painful and destructive because it is absolutely untrue and laced with hate.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Ephesians 4:31 ESV
- The fourth type of gossip is joining in gossip to fit in with a person or group. In many situations, we do not start the gossip we just join in. The problem is when examining ‘what does the bible say about gossip’, I haven’t found a distinction between starting gossip or participating in gossip. Gossip is unkind because it is usually negative and hurts someone. When we are hurt by gossip, it doesn’t matter who started or finished the conversation. Being unkind is never acceptable and if we are powerless to stop a conversation (which happens) or defend someone, we can walk away.
“When you defend those who are absent you retain the trust of those present.”
- The fifth type of gossip is when we have a genuine concern for someone and a desire to help. We may be afraid or intimidated to tell the person so we discuss the problem and our solutions with anyone other than the person with the problem. This is a good time to have a conversation with God instead!
“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”
Proverbs 16:28 ESV
Why is Gossip Bad?
Gossip is bad because it hurts people. It hurts the gossiper and the person who is being spoken about.
Even if the details are true and we are trying to ‘help’, gossip should be avoided.
Research has shown that younger people gossip more than older people. Could this be that we learn as we age the harmful consequences of gossip?
I have learned that gossip destroys relationships, dismantles friendships, and stalls spiritual growth.
If you are the victim of gossip I am sorry. Pray for God to heal your wounded spirit and to help you discern if any action is required.
Many times addressing gossip only exacerbates the problem and makes it grow like wildfire. Other times gossip needs to be addressed and stopped.
There are limitless, interesting topics to discuss that do not involve gossip. Friendships are built on trust and can last a lifetime when we demonstrate unconditional love, forgive often, overlook mistakes, respect boundaries and avoid gossip.
Love grows when we are intentional with our words and our kindness.
How to Handle Gossip Biblically
What does the Bible say about gossip? The same consistent message it says about our character and behavior in every area…do everything from a heart of love. Walking in humility as an ambassador for Christ.
A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart; a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Luke 6:45 GNT
There are many scriptures (nine from the book of Proverbs are listed below) we can study to learn when to speak, when to be silent, and how to handle gossip biblically.
Words that come out of your mouth have the power to give life or give pain. I love Toby Mac’s inspiring song “Speak Life”.
“Lift your head a little higher
Spread the love like fire
Hope will fall like rain
When you speak life with the words you say
Raise your thoughts a little higher
Use your words to inspire
Joy will fall like rain when you speak life with the things you say”
Here are a few questions to ask before speaking so words encourage hope and joy to ‘fall like rain’:
- Does it need to be said? Is it my story to share?
- Will my words hurt someone?
- Are my words necessary to help a situation or a person?
- What is my motive for speaking?
- Is it better to take my concerns, questions, and information to God in prayer instead of speaking?
When wondering how to handle gossip biblically, it starts with our ability to say no or be silent.
If we all become intentional about spreading love and kindness, as Jesus lived and instructed, we leave little room for gossip and hurtful idle chatter.
What Does the Bible Say About Gossip?
When studying ‘what does the Bible say about gossip’, Proverbs is a great place to start.
“God gave Solomon wisdom—keen insight and a mind as limitless as the sand on the seashore.”
1 Kings 4:29 GW
King Solomon authored most of the book of Proverbs sharing wisdom that impacts your speech, relationships, and purpose. We ask God for wisdom and are guided by the wisdom revealed to Solomon.
9 Scriptures on ‘What Does the Bible Say About Gossip’
Here are nine scriptures that answer ‘what does the Bible say about gossip’ from the book of Proverbs.
“Here are proverbs that will help you recognize wisdom and good advice, and understand sayings with deep meaning. They can teach you how to live intelligently and how to be honest, just, and fair. They can make an inexperienced person clever and teach young people how to be resourceful. These proverbs can even add to the knowledge of the wise and give guidance to the educated”
“The more you talk, the more likely you are to sin. If you are wise, you will keep quiet.”
Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal.
Be careful what you say and protect your life. A careless talker destroys himself.
Kind words are like honey; sweet to the taste and good for your health.
After all, even fools may be thought wise and intelligent if they stay quiet and keep their mouths shut.
What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.
If you want to stay out of trouble, be careful what you say.
Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarreling stops.
Have you found a way to avoid gossip? Would love to hear your thoughts on ‘what does the bible say about gossip’!
Mary Rooney Armand
Mary is the creator and writer for the faith-based blog ButterflyLiving.org. Her writing has been featured on multiple Christian websites and she is the author of the book, “Identity, Understanding, and Accepting Who I am in Christ” available on Amazon