01. Beware the Gossipmonger

Note: These scenarios are not gender-specific. Depending on the sex of the person reading this, male and female roles can be switched.

Somebody you know drops by your place for a visit and then proceeds to badmouth Mr. X or Ms. Y—after, of course, obtaining your affirmation that she is not gossiping but merely "sharing." This is what you do:

a. Decide it would be impolite to tell her to shut up; besides, you are curious to know what folks around you are saying about Mr. X or Ms. Y.

b. Tell the person to her face that you'd rather not engage in the conversation, even though you know it could jeopardize your relationship.

c. Listen with great eagerness, interspersing every second statement with gushed, "Oh really?" or "How shocking!" ensuring the verbal flow of diarrhea doesn't stop.

d. Pitch in with your own contributions, embellishing them with copious garnish to make them more interesting.

You might find it interesting to note that the word "devil" in Greek translates as "a slanderer," so whenever we engage in a slanderous conversation, we become devilish. All slander has its roots in gossip, and there is perhaps no sin that is more obscene or damaging to others and to self. To others, because it trashes reputations and ruins lives, very often of the innocent. To self, because it jeopardizes our very salvation! In the understanding of this fact lies the antidote to gossiping, so let's take a look at a few things that Scripture says about gossip—or the careless use of the tongue:

  1. Jesus warns: But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).
  2. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless (James 1:26).
  3. ... nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10).
  4. Peter, too, warns about the suffering that will meet the busybody, equating such people with murderers and thieves. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler (1 Peter 4:15). The dictionary defines a meddler as "a person who seeks confidential information about others; a snoop; a nosy person."
  5. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be (James 3:9-10).

And if Scripture doesn't impress you, understanding this fact might be: If your friend talks about somebody to you, you can bet anything you want that your friend talks about you to somebody!

Many people I know, especially those reluctant to engage in gossip, prefer to exercise option (a). The reasons are more than those stated and often include the genuine fear that upsetting the gossipmonger—usually a person with a very vindictive nature—would result in vicious attacks against oneself. So the best thing to do (they reason) is to pander to the gossipmonger. But this can have worse consequences. Jesus warns: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). When you engage in a conversation that God warns against, even without contributing anything to it yourself, you are a fellow participant in a sin. So, cut the person off right at the pass with a polite but firm: I don't think I want to hear about that. That's response (b). And if you lose your "friend," perhaps you are better off with him/her lost. 


  1. Use the Triple Filter Test: Before engaging in or entertaining gossip, apply Socrates' Triple Filter Test. Ask yourself if the information is true, good, and useful. If it fails to pass any of these filters, refuse to participate in the conversation.
  2. Set boundaries: Be firm and clear in your communication when someone tries to involve you in gossip. Politely express your discomfort with the conversation and your desire not to participate.
  3. Redirect the conversation: If someone insists on sharing gossip, try to steer the discussion in a more positive direction. Talk about uplifting topics or find ways to encourage and build up others instead of tearing them down.
  4. Examine your own heart: If you frequently engage in gossip, take time to reflect on the reasons behind this behavior. Are you seeking validation, attention, or a sense of belonging? Address these underlying issues and seek to find your identity and security in Christ.
  5. Pray for discernment and strength: Ask God to help you recognize gossip when it arises and to give you the courage to stand against it. Pray for wisdom in your interactions and for the ability to speak life-giving words.

Gossiping is a destructive habit that can damage relationships, reputations, and even our own spiritual well-being. As Christians, we are called to use our words to build up and encourage others, not to tear them down. By applying biblical principles, setting boundaries, and examining our own hearts, we can overcome the temptation to engage in gossip and instead cultivate a culture of love, respect, and unity within our communities.