How to Handle Gossip Biblically

How to Handle Gossip Biblically

Have you ever been the subject of gossip among others? I have. And I hate to admit that I have also been the initiator of gossip countless times.

Let’s get real about gossip today and talk about how to handle gossip biblically. Because that’s the last thing the enemy wants from us today, to recognize his schemes and to stand against them!

Years ago I was the subject of gossip that spread amongst friends for months without my knowing it. It hurt me deeply and can sometimes still affect me today. 

I spent a lot of time in prayer and received counsel from many older (wiser) people as to how to handle this situation and, put simply – the way in which to handle gossip is straight from the Bible. There is no other way.

This situation opened my eyes to the power of gossip. 

Gossip is one of the most effective tools that Satan uses to divide the church and destroy the community and fellowship within. 

There was a time where I thought seriously about leaving my church because of this gossip. And since then, I’ve come across countless others who have experienced something very similar.

Whether you have been the victim of gossip or feel that tug of conviction right now because of the gossip you’ve partaken in, let’s dive into this together and learn to overcome gossip.

Let me start by answering the question of “how to handle gossip biblically?” and then we’ll dive deeper into all the ways gossip divides us. 

Stick with me because there is powerful Scripture that we can use to grow the body of Christ and deepen our fellowship with others.

How to Handle Gossip Biblically

1. Recognizing Gossip

The first thing we need to do is to define gossip.

Google defines gossip as, “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”

This doesn’t even sound bad!

Gossip doesn’t have to be malicious or even ill-intended. It literally can just be a “report” about other people.

Gossip can be defined as any conversation about another person that changes the way they are thought of.

It isn’t my place to change Sally’s thoughts about Jen. It isn’t my place to share Jen’s current happenings unless Jen specifically told me to tell Sally and even then we shouldn’t be telling that information to Jane.

Get the point? 

We often think gossip is whispering mean words and laughing at the other person behind their back kind of thing. And although, yes, it sometimes is this – it isn’t always.

Let’s consider the amount of gossip that goes unrestrained because we don’t consider it to be gossip.

We can often find ourselves sharing information about others with many intentions – a prayer request, filling others in on current happenings, reminiscing on old times, etc. 

Ask the Lord to convict you in areas where you may be gossiping without realizing it.

2. Keep Your Words in Check (More So Your Heart)

Our words have power. Over and over again in Scripture, we see this. You will see countless bible verses in this post talking about the power of words.

So the very first way to handle gossip biblically is to consider your own words. 

Are your words spreading gossip?

Like I mentioned before, gossip doesn’t always sound malicious. Sometimes it sounds like just sharing a prayer request. Sometimes it sounds like reminiscing. Sometimes it sounds like “filling others in” on what’s going on. 

Are your words about someone else? Are they going to change the way that person is thought of?

Our words are meant to build up, to encourage, to spur one another on to love and good deeds, to be witnesses for Christ. 

Consider your words, are they doing these things?

Every single time you speak, you have to consider this. Because with each word, Satan is trying to get a foothold.

Proverbs 4:23 says, Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.

We have to be diligent about the state of our hearts.

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When we harbor bitterness, jealousy, hurt, unforgiveness, anger, etc., these things can all lead to gossip.

So here’s your first practical takeaway: 

Consider any bitterness, unforgiveness, hurt, jealousy, anger, etc. within you. Ask the Lord to reveal the state of your heart and to sanctify you. And consider your words today – do they speak life or death?

Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who love it will eat its fruit. -Proverbs 18:21

3. Be Willing to Stop It

Matt Chandler introduced me to the idea of being a “peacemaker” not just a “peacekeeper”.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. -Matthew 5:9

Peacekeepers take more of a passive approach, trying their best to keep peace with their words and their actions.

Peacemakers do the hard work. They are willing to step in when peace is being destoyed. They are willing face their own part in the matter and seek reconciliation.

Peacemakers aren’t just security guards walking around and trying to correct anywhere they see gossip, but they are seeking unity within the body of Christ. 

Are you willing to be the one to stop gossip in its tracks?

Don’t just step back and avoid talking about gossip, do something about it when you are around it.

If you walk into a conversation where people are talking about someone else, you could say something positive about the person. You could simply say, “wait is this gossip?”. You could redirect by asking something personal or relevant to the people you’re talking with.

Find a way to lovingly steer the conversation away from gossip and towards something much more meaningful. 

4. How to Respond to Gossip About You

Like I mentioned before, I faced a situation where I learned of gossip that had been spread about me. I was hurt, angry and extremely discouraged.

Fighting between the desire to run away or to go in guns blazing, I sought out a biblical approach to handling this gossip. And Matthew 18 gives us just that.

First, talk to the person individually. 

I would encourage you to pray before you do this. Get your heart into the right place. 

Don’t go and talk to a ton of people, therefore spreading your own sort of gossip. 

This sin is between you and your brother or sister who is gossiping about you.

This isn’t to say you cannot seek wise counsel, but do so in a loving way.

“If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother.” -Matthew 18:15

Then, bring one or two other believers with you. 

Don’t make this an attack, but keep the focus on lovingly bringing peace.

But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. -Matthew 18:16

Finally, bring it to the church. 

This may mean that you discuss it with your pastor. This may be a more formal process within yoru church. 

This process is to draw out and edify the person involved. I hope it never gets to this point or goes past this point. But if this doesn’t work, Scripture says this person is to be viewed as an unbeliever.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. -Matthew 18:17

Keep in mind that your goal is peace.

You are seeking peace and reconciliation and therefore, must enter in with a heart of forgiveness and a true desire to address the sin at hand.

“If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” -Matthew 5:23-24

If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. -Romans 12:18

The Consequences of Gossip Among Believers

Gossip is a powerful weapon that the enemy uses within the church. When we spend our conversations and our time gossiping, we miss out on so much!

Gossip keeps us from building relationships.

When we are talking about other people we aren’t building relationships.

Sure, there’s a small part of comradery that comes from having the same stance on what others are doing, but this is not built on anything solid.

I love this old proverb, “He who gossips with you will gossip about you.”

You won’t build any significant and life-giving relationships while you spend your time talking about other people.

Gossip keeps us from encouraging one another.

In the same way, when you spend your time talking about others, you can’t truly encourage and build one another up. You can only do this by talking about yourself or the person you are with.

Sharing your heart and taking time to encourage one another cannot happen when you’re gossiping.

Gossip keeps us from sharing testimonies.

There is so much power in sharing how God is at work in our life. I think Satan knows this and does everything he can to keep us from doing this.

Next time you’re tempted to bring up someone else, try to reroute your conversation to that of what God is doing in your life!

Gossip keeps us from talking about our faith and struggles.

It’s easy to waste our time talking about others. 

We can spend so much time talking (or even seemingly reminiscing) about the people in our lives while forsaking opportunities to talk about our faith and even our trials.

Imagine if instead of talking about others (even if it’s that crazy friend from years ago), try talking about your faith and what’s actually going on in your life.

This is harder to do but brings forth so much more fruit. 

Gossip keeps us from true accountability.

When we aren’t sharing testimonies, aren’t talking about our faith and aren’t talking about our trials, there is no way we will find true accountability within the body of Christ.

It’s so much easier (and feels better) to talk about the hardships and trials in the lives of those around us.

Let’s instead talk about ourselves and how we can grow together. 

What Does the Bible Say About Gossip?

Our words should build others up.

Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but only what is good for building others up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. -Ephesians 4:29

If we cannot keep our tongue under control, our religion is worthless.

If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn’t bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is worthless. -James 1:26

We shouldn’t speak against another or judge our sisters and brothers.

Don’t speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother and judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. -James 4:11

Gossip breaks the trust of another.

One who brings gossip betrays a confidence, but one who is of a trustworthy spirit is one who keeps a secret. -Proverbs 11:13

Gossip can work its way into our innermost being. Is this what we are to treasure?

The words of a gossip are like dainty morsels: they go down into a person’s innermost parts. -Proverbs 18:8

Our words have the power of death and life.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who love it will eat its fruit. -Proverbs 18:21

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Stopping gossip will stop quarrels.

For lack of wood a fire goes out. Without gossip, a quarrel dies down. -Proverbs 26:20

The Lord can help us guard our hearts and words. 

Set a watch, Lord, before my mouth. Keep the door of my lips. -Psalm 141:3

As we guard our words, we keep our soul from trouble.

Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue  keeps his soul from troubles. -Proverbs 21:23

More Bible Verses on Gossip:

He who hides hatred has lying lips. He who utters a slander is a fool. -Proverbs 10:18

In the multitude of words there is no lack of disobedience, but he who restrains his lips does wisely. -Proverbs 10:19

Besides, they also learn to be idle, going about from house to house. Not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. -1 Timothy 5:13

Their wives in the same way must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, and faithful in all things. -1 Timothy 3:11

With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but the righteous will be delivered through knowledge. -Proverbs 11:9

How to Avoid the Temptation to Gossip

If you read all of this and nodded along and yet still find yourself talking about others, let’s figure out how to avoid the temptation to gossip.

It takes a lot of intentionality at first but over time it will become second nature to recongize it and reroute it.

Like anything, the temptation will fade and the desire to live righteously will grow.

The biggest question to ask yourself is this:

What is driving your desire to gossip? Bitterness, disappointment, jealousy, hurt? Or is it simply a desire to grow friendships?

I know for me, I was often talking about others because I was trying to grow friendships and this is not only what they were doing, but it also made me feel good to agree that so and so was weird for doing whatever it was they were doing!

I was new to my church after getting married and so growing friendships was super important.

Even now, years later, I still find gossip starting up everywhere I turn. I’m sure it’s the same for you.

What’s different now is I literally have no desire to gossip. 

(Now let me mention I’m not perfect and the process of recognizing it and stopping it is still that – a process)

But I now feel that tug of conviction when gossip starts around me. 

I realize that the friendships grown on the soil of gossip aren’t really friendships at all.

I hope that you will see this too! 

Satan wants to divide us. He wants to cause strife and to make us focus so much on talking about others that we don’t actually spur one another on towards spreading the kingdom of God!

That is what we should be doing in every single conversation – building one another up in order to spur each other on toward love and good deeds.

What is driving your desire to gossip? And how can you surrender that to the Lord today?

Powerful Prayer to Stop Gossip

Lord, I surrender my heart and my words to You today. You have given us clear instructions on how we are to speak and I ask that You would convict me of any areas where I am gossiping. 

Give me a true desire for Your righteousness and peace.

Reveal the lies that Satan webs into my life that tempt me towards gossip.

May my words build up, encourage, spur others on to love and good deeds.

Where I come across gossip, strengthen me and equip me to be a peacemaker for You.

Above all, help me to love others just as You call me to. 

If there are any areas of hurt in my heart, I surrender those to You. I choose right now to forgive those involved and pray that You would heal the hurts and help me to seek reconciliation and peace.

May Your will be done within the body of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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