How Gossip Damages People
Written by Rebekah Hargraves | March 25, 2019
I would venture to say that one of the most common tools Satan uses to destroy friendships between women is the practice of gossiping. What may seem like innocent and fun conversation is anything but! It is powerful, destructive, and lasting in its implications.
Proverbs 21:23 says, “The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” James agrees when he writes in James 3:5-8, “So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
We can easily see how angry speech, hateful speech, or clearly wicked speech could destroy in the ways James describes in that passage. But what’s so bad about gossip? Here are just 5 ways in which gossip wreaks havoc just as badly as angry or vile speech does:
It goes against Ephesians 4:29 and Philippians 4:8.
Just one of the problems with gossip is that it prevents us from living out the teachings of passages such as Ephesians 4:29 (“No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.”) and Philippians 4:8 (“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.”).
When you are tempted to gossip, what you want to say about someone else may, in fact, be true. But it would not build up that person, so it is still inappropriate to say. It may feel just, particularly if they have wronged you, but it still isn’t lovely or honorable to exact revenge and throw them under the bus. Gossip simply does not fit in with how we are called to speak, according to these passages.
It ruins trust.
If you want someone to never trust you with their hearts and innermost thoughts and feelings again, just gossip about them! Nothing destroys trust quite as quickly as gossip does. It is impossible to continue on in friendship with people if you know they are gossiping about you behind your back, for close relationships must be built on a foundation of trust.
It prevents harmony and unity in the body of Christ.
We are called to “if possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18). All throughout 1 Corinthians 12 (and, really, the entire New Testament!), we are told that God delights in unity and harmony in His body. Gossip, however, destroys this harmonious unity God seeks for us.
On the one hand, if you are the one being gossiped about, you clearly will not feel inspired to live in harmony, peace and unity with the one spreading gossip about you. Likewise, if you are the gossiper, you will begin to feel a bitterness grow in your heart towards the person you are gossiping about. After all, the more you gossip about someone, the more you are meditating on their shortcomings, the more a distaste for their failings will grow in your mouth, and the less interested you will then be in living in harmony with them.
The reality is that God hates gossip, for it ruins His desire for there to always be peace in the body. It prevents His people from loving, caring for, praying, and serving one another, and therefore has no place in the body of Christ.
It breaks up relationships and prevents new ones from forming.
People don’t want to be friends with a known gossiper. This means, then, that if you are known for being a gossiper, you will likely find it incredibly hard to keep the friendships you currently have and perhaps even harder to form any new friendships in the future. If you are determined to gossip, you may find that you are paving for yourself a very lonely path in which to walk, for Proverbs 16:28 says, “a contrary person spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”
It ruins your reputation and your witness.
We briefly touched on this above, but gossiping really does tarnish your witness for Christ. Jesus said in John 13:35 that “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The hard truth, however, is that if you are wiling to gossip about someone, you don’t truly love them. This lack of love, in turn, ruins your ability to be a faithful ambassador for Christ as you are called to be.
Furthermore, a lifestyle of gossip is completely antithetical to how Christians are to act. Second Corinthians 12:20 lists “quarreling, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambitions, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder” as characteristics Paul does not want to find in the lives of the professing Christians at Corinth. This poor character has no place in the believer’s life and is, instead, characteristic of those things which we are to consistently seek to “put off” once we come to Christ.
While it may be momentarily fun to gossip about someone else, it isn’t worth it. It’s never worth it. It will break up your friendships, cause others to distrust you, make you a poor example of Christ to the watching world, and keep you from living the kind of life Christ desires for you to live. So, the next time the enemy tempts you to enter into a gossip session, just say, “No!”.