You don’t want to be a gossip. There is no upside to being one. Gossips hurt neighbors, divide friends, and damage reputations and relationships. The Bible labels gossips as untrustworthy and meddlesome (Proverbs 11:13; 20:19; 26:20; 1 Timothy 5:13) — and even as worthy of death (Romans 1:29, 32). At your best in Christ, you don’t want to be one.
All too often, however, you and I do want to gossip. Gossiping can be fun and addictive and provide a short burst of guilty pleasure. The book of Proverbs likens the words of a gossip to “delicious morsels,” a tasty treat that promises delight to those who indulge (Proverbs 18:8; 26:22). We get bored and want to entertain ourselves by snacking on the shameful stories of other people’s lives. Or we get proud that we know something that someone else doesn’t and want to show off our inside scoop. Or we get mad and crave the satisfaction of character assassination from afar, sniping at our enemies when they don’t even know they’re in danger. Gossip can be hard to resist.
But gossip isn’t just hard to resist; it’s hard to define. We don’t always know when we’re being a gossip. It slips into our conversations, and its definition slips by us. So, what exactly makes gossip gossip? We need some handholds.
What Is Gossiping?
The Scriptures do not provide a definition of gossip in one location. Instead, they describe gossip in action and intimately tie it to the character of the people participating in this tantalizing sin. The Bible often uses the word gossip to describe a kind of person more than just a pattern of communication.