“I am a gossip,” admits Callie Glorioso-Mays on Relevant. And not only has she been an offender, she’s been the subject of nasty gossip as well. According to Callie, Christians have a gossip problem and need to do something about it.
“What is it that makes gossip so toxic to our souls? At its root, gossip is a manifestation of two elusive sins: pride and idolatry. C.S. Lewis, who called pride ‘the essential vice, the ultimate evil,’ wrote: ‘A proud man is always looking down on things and people.’
Pride is like an unscrupulous marketing agency for our lives and abilities. Obsessed with presenting the best possible view of self, pride treats gossip as a necessary by-product in order to get ahead.
Along with this pride is idolatry, which reveals what we truly love and value. Martin Luther addressed idolatry saying: ‘Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God, your functional savior.’ Gossip exposes our functional saviors as idols when we examine our real motives when gossiping.”
She goes on to examine several idols that motivate us to gossip: superiority, retribution, and acceptance.
“These idols show that gossip not only destructive to other people’s lives, but also to our own. Gossip is not an easy habit to curb, especially when it is so prevalent in our society and our Churches.”
But if gossip is so prevalent in our churches, are we speaking against it with equal fervor? iBelieve blogger Brett Wilson doesn’t think so. According to her article, Confessions of a Perpetual Gossip Girl, we do a sub-par job of cautioning each other against this sin.
“Of all thousands words we pass along to each other throughout the day, no one ever said that this was wrong. No one really preaches on gossip. Or tries to put an end to it.
Premarital sex? Sure. Murder? Absolutely. Gluttony? Yes, a total sin against body and soul. There are books, and sermon series and devotional guides to put an end to the spiral of these lifestyle choices.
But, why haven’t we heard a word about gossip?
I have to wonder, though, if gossip has become so woven into the fabric of our lives and friendships that we hardly notice it anymore. Because at this point, I’m not even sure where regular conversation ends and where harmful chatter starts.”
The grey area between conversation and gossip can be a rough one to navigate. Crosswalk author Kris Swiatocho tackles this fine line in an article discussing the differences between “gossip” and “venting.” She starts off by explaining,
“We all have times when we need to vent. We simply need to share about things that are frustrating us, be it church, school, family or friends. Venting allows us to hear our own voice, hear the problem, and even work it out. Venting allows us to process the stress.”
She goes on to caution that venting can turn to gossip when the focus turns to elevating ourselves, making ourselves look better, and causing someone else to look bad.
“When you start to tell someone about your church, your pastor, your boss, or your friend - what type of things are you sharing and why? Are you sharing a character flaw? Are you sharing a sin? Are you sharing something they did wrong to you? What is your ultimate goal in talking about them behind their backs? And to whom are you talking about them? Are you really sharing because they need prayer?”
Kris recommends prayer and discernment before venting to a friend – and a willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit if you start to toe the line of gossip.
According to Ephesians 4:29, we should let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths, but only such as it good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Is gossip something you struggle with? Have you been burned by gossip and idle chatter? What wisdom do you have to share from personal experience with this common temptation? Let us know in the comments…
…But remember, no gossiping!
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: April 22, 2014