‘The words of a gossip … go down to a man’s inmost parts.’ Proverbs 18:8 NIV (1984 Edition)
Gossip destroys reputations and friendships. And it keeps others from opening up and getting the help they need. The Bible ranks gossip up there along with murder (see Romans 1:29).
It may not be your intention, but your words can break somebody’s heart. It’s no big surprise when people gossip at the beauty salon or in the workplace, but how about church? It’s just not so obvious there because we’re experts at disguising it.
For example, a friend confides in you about a marriage issue, or their child’s drug problem, and what do you do? You get on the phone and call the prayer chain. You ‘share it’ under the guise of asking for prayer. James writes, ‘If anyone … does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless’ (James 1:26 NIV 1984 Edition).
Why does God come down so hard on gossip? Because it tells the world certain Christians can’t be trusted; that somebody with a problem is safer in a twelve-step group than in church. Ever notice how gossip travels faster on grapevines that are sour?
And some of the worst offenders are Christian leaders seeking to impress their peers by divulging details of somebody else’s struggles. If you see this tendency in yourself, you need to pray: ‘Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD’ (Psalm 19:14 KJV). If you must talk, talk to God.