8 Flavors of Gossip, 26 Bible Verses

by Jen on May 2, 2012

Gossip is like a secret craving. We say we don’t like it, but when it’s within reach, we almost can’t resist it. We get a sudden appetite to know what we don’t know… about somebody else.

Why is it so hard to stop? Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”

No, you might think. Not me. I’m not into sharing the dirty details about a person’s life just for fun. But gossip comes in many flavors, and it involves listening as well. Proverbs 17:4 notes: “Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.” Yikes!

Types of Gossip and What the Bible Says

How do we know what’s gossip and what’s not gossip? We can find a number of bible verses about gossip, especially in Proverbs, and we can also ask God to reveal it to us. James 1:5 tells us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Have any of the types of gossip below been too tempting for you to resist lately?

Slander
It’s defined as spreading rumors or lies about a person to cause damage purposely. The written form of it is libel.

The bible mentions slander countless times in lists like this one: “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).

James 4:11 tells it straight: “Brothers, do not slander one another.”

Dishing

“Dishin’ the dirt” basically means sharing the “juicy info” you learned about someone. Maybe the intent isn’t to directly cause damage, but by keeping the gossip alive, it continues to spread and taint the image of the person it’s about.

Proverbs 20:19 tells us that a gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

James 5:9 says, “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!”

Rumors

You hear something, and it’s not good, and it’s also not confirmed as true. But you tell someone or ask someone else about it to get more info. The rumor mill turns and turns and the gossip spreads.

Proverbs 13:3 says, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

Backbiting

It’s a flavor of gossip that involves speaking spiteful or slanderous words about another who is not present and can do nothing in defense. It’s secretive, and the bible actually mentions it by name in Proverbs 22:23: “The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.”

Also: “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure” (Psalm 101:5).

Not-Really-Joking Jokes

Have you ever taken some part of truth and turned it into a joke about someone that makes other question their character? It also serves as a passive way to spread more gossip. Example: Maybe he/she will actually get off the couch today long enough to blahblah. haha.

When the joking is harmful to another, it’s mockery. How can you know a mocker? It’s in the bible. Proverbs 21:24 says, “Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.” And verse 9:8 says, “A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.”

In addition, Proverbs 22:10 says, “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”

And Psalm 1:1 starts out: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”

Planting Seeds

The bible tells us we reap what we sow. With that in mind, this type of gossip is said in such a way to make the listener question or assume something about the character of a person. For example: Isn’t it weird how he keeps staring at your girlfriend when you’re not looking?

James 3:5 tells us, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

A warning from the bible from Proverbs 16:28: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”

Whispered Innuendo

These subtle insinuations can mislead others into thinking wrong thoughts, especially if the conclusions are based on gossipy hunches. Here’s an example: It’s interesting how he was “out of town” the night she was murdered.

Proverbs 26:30 tells us, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.”

And a warning from the bible: “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3).

Got-This-All-Wrong Gossip

You admit you probably got it wrong, but spread it anyway, because it’s still touching on some points that could be true. Or would sound exciting if true. Either way, it usually starts out like this: I probably got this all wrong, but apparently…

This is one of the most common types of gossip. We think we’re just passing on the latest news. Could it hurt someone? Meh. Maybe. But if we don’t even know the person, does it matter? James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who know the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Thankfully, Jesus gave us an example to follow:

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is said whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs” (Matt 10:26-27).

Photo Credit

You might also like: 10 Ways We Sin Without Knowing

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah May 4, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I love the photo tied to your blog :)

I do agree on gossip…I do get convicted sometimes, it’s not like I am constantly gossiping but you know what Christian say….gossip starts with a ‘prayer request’ for a friend and so forth and so on; God is Gracious tho, He convicts me if I go over the line, it’s not like I want to share other people’s problems, but just want help for my friend but it’s only between God and them or just between us unless it is stated that I can share you know?

Well, thanks for giving me a fresh look at gossiping :)

David May 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Could be easy to look at “other” types of sin and think how disgusting, but what about this one? Is it really all that funny to defile ourselves around the workplace when we slander, talk maliciously and let evil plot destruction with our tongues? Ever hear the laughs of the peoples around you and from where the laugh stems? Just watch almost any comedy show and see how society has been trained, even by a fake laugh machine in television shows, to laugh and encourage belittling, arrogant, haughty behavior. “Oh, that person is so…..haa haa ha ha!!!”

So grateful that the Lord led my family to a fellowship of believers who are striving to abide in Jesus’ way.

Great post Jen, it’s always good to be on guard against the enemy! Got to put on that spiritual armor and hold on!

Jennifer Johns May 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Sarah — I’ve been totally convicted lately about gossip. This is one of those things I didn’t think I had a personal problem with, but God has been showing me how *many* ways it happens! Especially knowing how listening counts as taking part in gossip, I’m seeing how easily it can stay alive in our lives under the surface. Still learning, and like you said, God is gracious.

Jennifer Johns May 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Gossip: the hidden enemy! Thanks for this insight David.

theodora yemi May 9, 2012 at 2:43 am

would like to be receiving daily inspirational words from u

theodora yemi May 9, 2012 at 2:47 am

Hello,
i get angry easily and when am angry i can say anything even though i cannot do it at the and of the day,and i need the grace of God to know when to speak n when not to speak.what can i do?

Jennifer Johns May 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Hi Theodora — Our tongue is a small flame, but it can set an entire forest on fire! I’ve had to pray about this same thing and have seen results come over time as God fills me with his spirit. But the difference is HUGE. Also found inspiration in the book of James (it’s short and all about “controlling the tongue”).

We have to resist the urge to say more, even when we feel we have the right. James 4:7 — Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

It’s so important to pray about these things because we can’t do them on our own. It’s also stated in the bible:“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

As for daily inspiration, the bible verse of the day updates daily on the side bar of this blog, but most feature posts are once a week. You can get those by signing up on the right side bar. God bless you!

Amabel October 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm

The topic was perfectly described, addressed and quantified. I loved this piece. I hope everyone has the opportunity to read this and shares. Also, I pray for more convictions in regard to this matter.

Thank you so – much for sharing.

BoricuaNena December 29, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Recently, my spiritual mom & I had a misunderstanding and she decided to speak to a 3rd party who is a “christian woman.” This woman only met me once & didn’t realize that my spiritual mom & I reconciled & forgave each other until she tried fishing for answers. So she’s been voluntarily repeating my spiritual mom’s words in order to get me stirred up, but I kept noticing how I had been on the defensive side telling her how my spiritual mom knows I am a considerate person & cried about this issue cause we were supposed to keep this concern between us. My spiritual mom & I prayed for this woman to find peace in the Lord. A whole week has passed & this woman appears to be so upset & dissatisfied that I haven’t slandered or gossiped about my spiritual mom & the Lord has prompted me to forgive her & stay far away from this woman cause
she isn’t @ peace with us reconciling. We need to pray for discerning people who gossip they are happy when others are not @ peace.

Jennifer Johns December 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm

All of us fall… including Christians! The Spirit convicts us of our wrongdoing, and I’m sure that as you stand strong in the Lord and this woman sees the fruit of the Spirit in your life, she will be convicted and moved to face this place in her own heart. It is really encouraging to hear that instead of slandering, you pray. Remember, as always… this war is not against each other…

Draw close to the Lord and He will draw close to you. — James 4:8

My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. — Proverbs 1:10

With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape. — Proverbs 11:9

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. –Proverbs 26:20

By the way — what is a spiritual mom?

wendy kelly March 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

this is very good, god can not look at sin, you gossip, you sin, he is not looking at you…
amen.. this is good x excellent
my god bless you

Nina March 17, 2013 at 11:40 am

To be a Christian means to be like Christ, to live like Christ. This is in every aspect of your life. No doubt, we all sin sometimes. I have found in my personal relationship with Christ, it is just better if I keep my mouth SHUT, period in certain situations. You can feel it in your spirit when you are doing something wrong, or if you are thinking about doing something wrong. Pray, pray, pray. Don’t gossip. We do reap what we sow. Only sow GOOD seed, so you will reap a GOOD harvest. :D

JR March 20, 2013 at 7:33 am

Ask yourself, Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Repentance requires a turning around, and that means doing your best to right the wrongs that you’ve caused. Gossip is a theft of reputation.

Richelle April 25, 2013 at 7:39 am

This article is really good. Thank you so much for sharing it. :D
Recently there are this rumors and gossip people created and talking about me and the worst part is they are part of the church which I find it really disappointing. It really hurts and the pain just wont go away. I think this gossips are really a big temptation the devil is giving us in order for us to fall into his trap.

Nina said is right.. Pray pray and pray.

keep praying for them, and for yourself so that this gossips will not affect our good and intimate relationship with God. No holding of grudges, and no bitterness, in the end , God will give us more reward. :D

So, we better stay on track and continue pleasing the Lord. :)
It’s the best way that entertaining their gossips ^^ Blessings.

Thank you once again, I really appreciate this blog. ^^

anonymous June 8, 2013 at 12:07 am

I used to gossip, I grew up in a family with gossiping women so naturally I thought it was normal. It is disgusting to talk about people behind their backs or in their face as a mocker does. I used to think people were talking about me, but it was because I was always talking about somebody. Its best to keep your mouth shut if you have nothing positive to say, that’s what I do now. Some young girls were gossiping to me today about some other ladies and I didn’t want to seem like I’m better than them and walk away so I simply defended the accused and said how nice they were and not to think like that. I repeated the conversation to my mom and she said it was some good advice I gave them. Because afterwards they were agreeing with me that it is not that serious basically to focus on someone else, and to find the good attributes in them or just stay out of their way and not let people bother them.

January June 22, 2013 at 9:21 pm

So, I’m teaching on gossip tomorrow for our church’s youth group and I am totally referencing your 8 things here (although I smushed together “planting seeds” and “whispered innuendo” and added helpful/hurtful referencing saying something “mean” about someone else in order to boost a friend’s mood or feelings… like, “Oh your graduation speech last year was way better than Susie Q’s graduation speech today.”).
And I am also pointing them to focus on Philippians 4:8 as a counter… and it’s so cool that you have 8 things and Phil 4:8 has 8 things! So, I’m pointing out how they should avoid the 8 things above and use these categories as their guide of what to say. Is it: 1) true, 2) noble/honorable, 3) right, 4) pure, 5) lovely/beautiful, 6) admirable/respected, 7) excellent, 8) praiseworthy? It’s already helped me to not send a couple of texts today that I would have otherwise. So thank you for your post, both for all the youth that will be blessed by it tomorrow (especially your corresponding scriptures) as well as for me!

Patrice June 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Lord, I thank you for always providing the right answers when I need your guidance. Forgive me for I have sinned. I thought I was just staying facts about my pain points on the job, yet here I stand GUILTY of gossiping. Cleanse my heart, renew my mind and bridle my tongue. Help me with my response when I feel wronged, that I seek first your kingdom, righteousness and rule. Father I now know the truth and am set free, claiming your complete healing and deliverance from this behavior. Thank you once more and again for opening my eyes. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!

Anthony Andrews July 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm

You had a typo in the whispered innuendo section, there is no proverbs 26:30, the correct verse is 26:20. Thank you for sharing your info, looking forward to more.

Aileen September 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I believe that gossip is a sin that can be very destructive. I respect the people who want to make their business “public” but there should also be a boundary when someone comes to a leader and request that their personal life be kept confidential. A testimony is a public deal, but a family counseling session is not! it’s common sense.

Mwengwe September 28, 2013 at 12:24 am

Thank you for the information on gossip i have learnt something and i will share it for my friends to learn

Stacey November 22, 2013 at 10:59 pm

I think that one of the most harmful and disgusting forms of gossip is something I call “prayer gossip”. It is rampant in the church and it is shameful. When someone asks someone to pray for this other person who is going through (fill in the blank), it’s nothing more than gossip disguised in a prayer request and seen as sanctioned by God. It isn’t. Church prayer chains become gossip lines, and people get hurt, slandered, embarrassed, and can ultimately be run out of a church or become too ashamed or embarrassed to return because everyone knows their private business. You can say that it was just to pray for them, and maybe it was. God knows the heart. But if you don’t have explicit permission from them personally, it’s not your news to share or, ahem, “ask for prayer for”.

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