The Character of Gossip
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8
Gossip isn’t a popular subject, but it certainly is a popular activity. Many people spend a great deal of time participating in idle talk about someone else, usually with the intention of injuring the individual in some way. Unfortunately, believers are oftentimes just as guilty of gossiping as unbelievers. But our Father wants us to see the practice for what it truly is.
The Bible includes gossip in a couple of odious categories. Paul lists it amidst interrelated sins like deceit, malice, slander, and arrogance (Rom. 1:29-30). Gossip is deceptive and defamatory, and it is accompanied by both cruelty and pride. These are all characteristics of “haters of God,” according to the apostle. In another passage describing ungodly practices, Paul places gossip in the middle. And of course, everyone recognizes the Ten Commandments, whose last decree is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16).
Gossip does not fit who we are as God’s children. Just as you can’t have poison and pure water pouring from the same stream, you cannot have both God-honoring talk and gossip coming from a believer. When evil words pass our lips, they are indicative of what we harbor in our heart. However, God is in the heart-cleaning business. If we falter—allowing gossip and its cohorts, malice and deceit, into our lives—we should pray as David did: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).