* I talk a lot about the bible and Christianity in this post, please read this with an open mind because this can be applicable to any and all beliefs. We can all agree gossip is toxic.
Our culture has a fascination with “knowing” or hearing about the lives, actions, and any other detail you can think of in regards to an individual or a couple. Whether it’s true or not, it does not cease.
Aside from celebrity gossip and all the tabloids, when people get bored of hearing about what new guy Kylie Jenner is with, people search, either consciously or subconsciously, a little more close to home.
We’ve all heard gossip especially in school.
University maybe not as much but it’s still out there, the story’s probably get more “juicy”.
Sadly churches can even fall short of the gossip spell and engage in conversations they shouldn’t.
What really is gossip?
What can we do as a society to stop it?
Why do people gossip?
What are the effects of gossip?
Within families and friendships gossip can run rampant.
I think this group of relationships is the most dangerous, because gossip within friendships and families can be masked as “just saying this out of concern for so and so” or “I’m just stating the truth out of concern“.
The contradiction with those two statements is the key word concern. Should one actually have genuine concern, they would not be spreading their ideas, unqualified diagnosis’, interpretations, ideas or what they “heard” to a group of people. They would simply go to the actual person that the news surrounds and speak to them directly, out of concern of course.
Gossip is defined as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people.”
We can re word this statement to our own benefit as, gossip is defined as “talking about our friends, family or other people out of malicious intent (intentional or unintentionally”).
We can say to ourselves “fewf, I don’t hate my friend, so I wasn’t gossiping, I’m just worried!”
We can justify it anyway we like to make ourselves feel better, but despite anyone’s intentions, the actual act of discussing one’s personal or relational life is gossiping.
The bible talks about how gossip is actually deemed as being wicked, wow harsh. (Romans 1:29)
We can see how evil gossip is when we share embarrassing, shameful and/or private details about someone’s lives. When someone’s reputation has been damaged it’s evident just how wicked gossip has been.
Everyone has been either the victim in this, the perpetrator or stood by and listened.
Once these words and lies have spread, the person all the gossip is about makes it hard for people to respect them, take them seriously, it causes people to have a prejudged idea about them. Aren’t we as Christians not supposed to judge people? Pretty hard when you hear “Bob over there, he cheated on his girlfriend”. Of course, we may be skeptical of Bob and not want much to do with him. Meanwhile, poor Bob may have not even done such a thing!
It’s much like the game Telephone, the more people involved, the more a story gets distorted and changed.
I’ll leave this section with this bible verse.
“Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to.” 1 Timothy 5.
I think a safe rule of thumb for anyone to avoid gossip is when a conversation starts off with, “Hey have you heard from so and so lately? Because they…..” or “Hey, I heard that…“, I think it’s safe to say, “No thanks, I don’t want to know about it.” This is something I have implemented over the last several months. I’m sad I didn’t start sooner. I have fallen short of gossip, as many have, especially women. I have fallen short of hearing gossip, although I haven’t acted on it, hearing it alone is wrong.
Telling people I don’t want to know anything about a particular individual has allowed me to protect myself and to cut off the chain of gossip that I could potentially spread and infest onto others.
Another way to avoid gossip I’ve found is by venting to the right people.
Talking to someone who is an objective and unbiased person to be sharing my thoughts, assumptions and ideas with is perfectly acceptable.
For example, a counselor will not take sides, a counselor will give the advice on what is needed to hear, rather then what you want to hear.
It’s so important that when we have an issue with someone not to share it with those who we know will always take our side.
When we do that were justifying why we are right and why others are wrong, which isn’t possible with gossip. The only person that can determine and prove they are right is the actual person(s) that the gossip is about.
As Christians, we are called to love and pray for others. The bible definitely doesn’t say make assumptions, accusations, do not listen to the person undergoing issues, call them a liar, ignore them, whisper about their issues to others, make unqualified diagnosis’ and ruin their reputation. No the bible certainly does not say any of that.
If we can’t face the person were gossiping about, then we should at least stop and pray for them. Praying doesn’t mean we need to open our mouths to anyone. Praying means to stay quiet, and simply…pray!
Gossip is so ambiguous, it’s also very deceptive when the truth is, no one is justified or helpful by calling every and anybody except the actual person the gossip is about.
Gossip spreads like a virus, fortunately there is a cure, which is to not even allow yourself to hear anything, instead, just be silent.
(Ephesians 4:29) & (James 1:26)
It’s obvious where our hearts are at depicts greatly what comes out of our mouths.
If I’m prideful, angry, bitter, unforgiving and insecure, it’s most definitely going to seep out in what I say and how I act.
However, should I be more humble, content, joyful, forgiving and secure, the manor in which I will speak or how I act will be completely different.
Basically, if our words are filled with gossip, accusations, meddling, drama, judging, justifying, pride, insecurities and fear, well then so are our hearts.
That’s such a simple concept, yet one very terrifying because none of it are the fruits of the spirit. That is absolutely not how God calls us to be.
I think these negative things that occupy our hearts allows us to gain something.
I think people like the idea of others taking notice to them when they have information no one else has. I think it makes people feel good about themselves when they hear the lives of others aren’t doing so good.
When we gossip it gives us the illusion that we have power, control and significance of some sort (the concerned friend, the caring mother, the nice boyfriend or the helpful co worker).
Those adjectives I just used give me the creeps because people actually justify their actions by believing those lies about themselves which in turn, hurt others.
I think another reason we gossip about people is because were hurt. Whether we were hurt intentionally or unintentionally, were still hurting.
This particular reason to gossip is one I battled a lot this summer. No words can describe it other then it’s devastating to say the absolute least.
People did ask me questions pertaining to these individuals and how they acted, I answered truthfully without going into any grave detail.
Going into too much detail would allow the people making the inquiries to form perhaps a biased opinion towards me, which I did not want.
Unfortunately you can’t always defend people that are living lives of chaos and destruction.
Luckily I had a counselor to vent about and to gain further understanding with what perhaps these individuals are undergoing personally which is coming out onto me.
God knows far more then I the deep pains people are undergoing, I’ve tried not to take things personally, it’s hard, but absolutely necessary.
In order to protect myself from angry gossip when it has been thrown back at my face directly, was to be silent. Journalling, praying, reading and writing helped me to direct my focus elsewhere.
Hurt people, hurt people.
(Luke 6:45) & (Proverbs 11:12-13)
The hard part about gossip is that as quickly as it is told, heard and spread is how quickly it is believed.
I think our society is so desensitized to gossip, that it has become a part of our everyday lives.
Any bad habit is a problem, gossip is a bad habit.
Once it becomes an unconscious decision we make and engage in, it repeats itself daily and becomes, like any habit, an addiction.
Were desensitized because as I talked about earlier, we allow gossip to disguise itself as us being concerned and feeding our insecurities.
The cycle of gossip effects everyone differently, the person spreading gossip feeds off of the reaction of the people listening, the people listening feel important and the one being gossiped about ends up with nothing but a bad reputation and a label.
The truth is, if someone is gossiping about someone else to you, you can almost guarantee they are gossiping about you too.
I’ve been hurt by ignoring this truth, thinking I was excused from this behavior due to the relationships I had with the people gossiping.
Boy was I wrong.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when gossip was spread about me, yet I was.
Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot, the biggest one, that all the times I silently listened, or gave my biased opinions to the people I cared about, I was part of the problem.
I, even in a small form, contributed to potential lies being spread, to ideas being formed on no actual evidence, for assumptions to be made, to have a prejudged idea about someone, to cut certain people off on behalf of the person telling me the gossip and the list could regrettably, go on.
It’s made me question all those I made a judgements about, those I cut off, those I disliked out of respect for the one who vented to me about how they had caused pain for my friend.
I can say first hand, from being on the other end of gossip, not the listener, but the one the gossip is about, it’s devastating to say the absolute least.
The absolute worst part of it all, is that when gossip is about you, you can’t defend yourself because should you engage in rallying up people, bringing out evidence, calling people to learn what was really said, then YOU get subtly caught up in this gossip train. Now YOU have wasted X amount of time defending yourself, pulling proof, contacting people, defending yourself, when you shouldn’t have to!
People should be smart enough to ask you themselves, and if they can’t, then good residence!
It’s a harsh truth, one that I have had to learn.
Once gossip leaves a persons mouth, your reputation is unfortunately forever over.
Everyone will already have a preconceived opinion on you, despite your efforts to clear the air.
Realistically, You know what’s truth, I know what is true about my own life, and who I am. I have endless amount of proof, however it isn’t my job to convince anyone who I am or what I have done.
It’s a trick to think you have to defend yourself, it’s best to have no part at all, even if it means people still believe lies about you.
Because truth always comes out, it gave me peace knowing the truth will come out at the right time. All I need to do is continue being me, being truthful, minding my own business and the one spreading lies will be exposed.
It says that in the bible and it gives me peace knowing the God that created this universe is in full control and will defend me.
The worst kind of gossip, one I have sadly experienced, is the reverse. It is when YOU are accused of gossiping, when you didn’t.
That is when you can rest assured the issues dwell far deeper then you can imagine and the telephone game has been so contorted, the person spreading this gossip has now lost sight of what they are even gossiping about.
Perhaps the person was caught, exposed, afraid of being wrong, or confused themselves with all their lies that they are trying to pawn the actual sin of gossip onto someone else, in my case it was me, the one all the gossip was about in the first place!
When the unfortunate black cloud of gossip finds you and entangles you in a web of lies and pain. When you cry yourself to sleep every night and the voices, texts, messages, posts replay over and over again in your mind, the best thing to do is to not engage.
Preoccupy your thoughts with what is truth, whether no one knows it or not, they will one day.
Truth always comes out.
Spend time with people that pray for you, encourage you, have fun with you, show you compassion and love.
Eliminate and stay far away from anyone that is abusive, takes their anger out on you, spreads lies, assumes, alienates you, justifies their actions and publicly embarrasses themselves and the lives of others.
It will be a lonely season until its safe again to emerge, when you emerge your life could look much differently then before.
Count this lonely season as a blessing and Gods way of protecting you from the malice and evil that exudes everywhere else.
(Proverbs 16:28), (Proverbs 18:8), (Proverbs 20:19) & (James 3:2-10)
I felt like this was a good topic to write on, one that I have personally never experienced until now. I’m thankful I never dealt with this back in highschool. However that does not make it any easier now, other then the fact I’m more wise then I was in highschool.
Gossip is clearly toxic, it says a lot about the people that gossip, we know how we can stop it, we know how it effects others and we know it needs to stop.
I challenge everyone who reads this to assess themselves where they are at on the gossip train.
The bible warns so strongly on this type of behavior and the damage it causes for everyone involved.
As Christians our job is to bring others to Christ and spread god’s love everywhere.
How on earth are we doing that by talking badly about people we love or even people we don’t even know? It’s a useless pass time.
Even if your not a believer, anyone can agree gossip is pointless, it’s damaging and isn’t healthy.
Gossip is like playing an adult version of the game “Telephone” with no prize at the end and much less funny.
Next time you hear anything about anyone either tell the person you don’t want to hear it, encourage that person to take this directly to the person they supposedly are “concerned” about, literally walk away, don’t text back or simply don’t pick up the call if you know what it’s going to be about.
Let’s put a stop to this useless and damaging cycle of gossip.
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