Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3—Did you hear the one about . . .? Gossip.

Is that true?!

            Did you hear about that embarrassing photo taken of Princess Kate?  Well, I guess her title isn't officially "princess."  I think it's Duchess of something.  And did you hear about the stars of Twilight?  They were living together and he was going to propose but then he found out that she was having an affair with their director so he told her to get out but now I think I heard that they are getting back together and he forgave her.  What did you hear about it?

            Have you overheard a conversation like this?  Unfortunately, many of us have—or have been one of the partakers in such a conversation.  Gossip touches families in a big way, but we often do not notice it.  Why?  Because it can be difficult to recognize—since gossip can disguise itself like interesting conversation.

            What does the Bible say about gossip?

            I Timothy 5:13  " . . . And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." 

            It appears gossip can start when we have too much time on our hands and not enough to keep us busy.  That's when we start getting to other people's business, adding a little input of our own, and simply start saying things we should not be saying.

            Proverbs 20:19  "A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much."

            If someone takes too much pleasure in talking for the sake of talking, he will eventually run out of reasonable information to discuss, which means he will start saying some things he should not be saying.  Sometimes they are true; sometimes, not.  Regardless, nothing you tell that person will remain unsaid.

            Romans 1:29-32  "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice.  They are gossips, slanders, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death; they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

            You might be wondering why I used such a large passage when gossip is only mentioned in the second line.  Look at this long list of "sins."  Gossip sits between murder and God-haters.  I don't know about you, but I often hear people carelessly throw around the "idea" of gossip as no big deal.  In fact, gossip is often sought and praised.  Look at all the tabloid magazines and exposé t.v. shows.  If audiences did not crave gossip, those businesses would not exist.  Yet, God puts gossip in the same list as "every kind of wickedness" and those who do it as "deserving death."  Quite a different perspective.

            I Timothy 3:11 "In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything."

            Now we have an example of the lack of gossip.  In some Bibles malicious talkers is translated as gossips.  Here, one of the conditions to be worthy of respect and trustworthy in everything is not be a gossip.  Which do you want to be known as:  a gossip or a trustworthy person deserving respect?

            Your Turn:  Of course, your children should not hear you participating in gossip as a speaker or listener, but this is one of those topics that is easier to bring up with your kids.  Start with brainstorming about what gossip is and then share some of these Scriptures with your children.  This should stimulate a good discussion on a Biblical worldview of gossip.  The examples you use will vary depending on the ages of your children, and this would also be great to discuss as the topic comes up naturally.  And, it will come up naturally.  You bet.  They will be sure to tell you about some gossip they have heard at some point.  Help them recognize something as gossip with questions. 

Is it true? 
Do you know all the facts? 
Has someone else added facts, left important facts out, or stretched the truth? 
Where did you hear it? 
Did you hear it from the person involved? 
If not, did you ask that person about it? 
If you are not willing to discuss it with the person it is about, should you really be discussing it with other people? 
If the person who told you this knew you were repeating it, would he/she be happy with you or upset/?
Is it uplifting and worth repeating?

            As they get older and better understand your low tolerance for gossip, they may stop sharing some gossip with you.  The good part of that situation is that you have taught them the Biblical view of gossip so well they know when they have crossed the line with gossip.  The sad part is that they may not care they crossed the line.  At that point you have a different problem.

            Of course, some information your child will share with you will not pass the test of the questions above, but it should be discussed with you anyway.  Private matters, matters of concern or confusion, and matters simply a part of your child's day should be shared without reservation.  Conversation is not the same as gossip.  Being able to distinguish the difference is a skill that will not only touch your family in a positive way, but also the world around you (and your children).

            If you would like more ideas on helping your children (and yourself) develop a Biblical worldview or to find out how to win a Wal-Mart gift card, go to the 31Days Giveaway (Intro. Part II) post for more Touching Families blog links.  If you want to check out other 31 Days' topics, see The Nester.

*All verses quoted are from the New International Version:  THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


  1. This makes me think of something I heard at a marriage retreat, kind of on the topic of gossip - that you shouldn't talk negatively about your spouse to anyone else. I really liked that and have been trying to do it, and I especially don't want to talk about that in front of Baby B. I feel like that's an especially damaging kind of gossip around the kiddies.

  2. That is very important, especially in establishing stability in your family. Yet, sometimes it is difficult too. Unfortunately, sometimes peers will "pressure" you to talk negatively about your spouse, even in Christian circles. I encourage you to continue to resist that. On the other hand, most people need a "safe place" to vent. Someone who will keep your words safe and who understands that you do not really "mean" some of the things you are saying while you are upset. Choose such a person very carefully.