Scripture (references are at the bottom of this article) teaches that slanderers, gossips, those who sow discord, and whisperers are some of the words that describe individuals who spread information about a person, even if that information is true. We are specifically talking about information that is not proper to mention. What do you mean?
a transgression of some sort by someone
some evil that was done
dishonoring someone by an act or word
a private matter, secrets, or some knowledge about someone
This information usually focuses on the past or present sins, mistakes, and failures of that person. Before we go any further, are you getting a bit uncomfortable? Good! Read on!
Who is subject to gossip?
As Believers, we understand our spirit has been born again by the Holy Spirit. Our soul and body are, however, continually at war with our new nature. Operating in the works of the flesh (Galations 5:19-21) can result in the terrible sin of gossip. The flesh always causes us to feel better about ourselves when we can point to another person’s failures. We are, however, called to walk in the Spirit so that we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galations 5:16).
The horrible damage caused by gossip
I knew a sister in Christ years ago who had a real problem with gossip and speaking evil of others. She rarely encouraged anyone but rather found something negative to say about people. Despite encouragement to repent, this lady did not change her ways. She was never wrong in her own eyes, but justified what she said as “the truth”. She thought everyone else was wrong but she was “right”. She, in essence, was justifying what she said. It should be noted that this lady died of cancer just a few years later. Have you been involved in gossip, slander, discord, or whisperings? Take heed!
Another lady in our fellowship had a prophetic dream about the lady who spoke evil of others. This dream showed horrible cancers coming out of the gossiper’s mouth. It was a clear warning about the danger of gossip, slander, discord, and whisperings. Clearly, the Holy Spirit gave this dream as a warning about the dangers of uttering destructive words. Precious ones, when the Holy Spirit reveals something by whatever means, it is an invitation to action.
Around the same time, another individual in our fellowship who had a problem with gossip had a vivid dream about the words she spoke sawing off arms and legs of people’s bodies. In her dream, she saw how quickly her words against people literally were dismembering them and causing all manner of destruction! Though this dream was specific to her sin, we should recognize this as a warning to all of us. Because of that dream, that sister repented and completely changed the way she spoke about others. This is not a game. It is very real. There is power, both life and death, in what we say (Prov. 18:21). Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
The ministry of Jesus brought life, health, healing, and deliverance to people. Jesus accomplished this by representing the Father in all He did. As Jesus’ disciples, we are to emulate what He did. He is our example. Where we should be encouraging and building His Body, gossip puts people in a lower place. It causes us and others to think negatively about others. This is destructive, and is the opposite of life. It represents the forces of the devil (John 10:10). Wherever you see death, destruction, sickness, and bondage… know that the enemy is involved. Those who gossip open a doorway for the enemy to bring destruction into their lives. Always think the best about someone. Always!
Properly dealing with sin against you
Scripture clearly states that just because we may have information about someone, we do not have the right to share that information, especially when that information is damaging to an individual. Even when a Christian is in sin, it is to be kept quiet, private, and should be dealt with on a person-to-person basis. Consider the verse:
Matthew 18:15, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
Does this verse say we are to shout our brother’s sin from the rooftops? No, on the contrary, we are to go to our brother in private. If we have won our brother, then the issue stops there! What if our brother refuses to repent and continues in sin? Let’s look at the following verse:
Matthew 18:16, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” What, another private meeting? Yes, exactly! Once a matter is brought to a person with a witness, that will usually be the end of it. If after bringing a witness or two the brother won’t listen, then things get really serious. Scripture deals with this as well:
Matthew 18:17, “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
If the brother will not listen after telling the matter to the body, then that person is to be put out of the church. What does that mean? He is to be treated as though he was not a believer. At that point, it is perfectly acceptable to warn others in the Body about that person to keep others from possibly being hurt by that person. That person could well be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Wow! Scripture is clear how to handle this, dear ones!
I was part of a fellowship years ago where someone in leadership caused grave damage to the house. That “brother” left our fellowship and joined another work. Not long afterward, the pastor of the other fellowship called to inquire about that brother. The leader who took the call did not warn that other pastor about what had happened. That other pastor took that “brother” into his house. Before long, that “brother” had done great damage to that house as well. In proper channels, it is absolutely correct to warn others about someone who has refused correction at the church level. Failure to do so can cause grave damage to the cause of the gospel. Scripture is clear on how to deal with this sort of thing.
On the other hand, telling everyone about a sinning brother could be very damaging to the cause of Christ and the gospel. Let me ask you this, is it really a benefit to spread details of other people’s failures when we all have failed the Lord? Please remember, gossip sows strife (discord) among the Body of Christ and is considered by the Lord to be an abomination!
What should we do about gossip?
If someone comes to you and seems to be gossiping (slandering another person), stop them immediately! Tell them to quit filling your ears like they are trash cans! If possible, take that person and go to the person they are talking about and confront the issue. This will usually shock them, but it will bring the matter to a head and get it dealt with!
At the very least, ask them if they have talked to the person that they seem to be gossiping about. Have they confronted this person about their sin? Has this person gone through the steps outlined in Matthew 18? Is the person still practicing the sin? If the sin or problem has been dealt with, then the person “gossiping” should be confronted for sinning against you and against the person they are talking about. They need to apologize to the Lord, to you, and to the person they have slandered. Only then can the doorway they have opened to the enemy be closed. We are to give no place to the devil!
Further study (not exhaustive):
2 Corinthians 12:20
1 Timothy 5:13
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