The Sin of Gossip

By Thomas Icard

Gossiping sins are listed in 2 Cor. 12:30: “. . . debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults.” These sins can cause one to lose his soul, just as lying, stealing, and fornication can. “Gossip” is defined by Webster as “an idle tattler or carrier of tales; mere tattle; groundless rumor” (p. 373, Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1969 edition). Gossip is referred to in the Bible as whispering. It “occurs in an evil sense in Romans 1:29 . . . is used of secret slander in 2 Cor. 12:30” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 212).

Although the tongue is one of the body’s smallest members it has a great influence over the body. It is often the cause of our troubles. James talks about its power in James 3:3-12. We should be able to control such a small member of the body, yet this is one of the hardest things we find to do. The apostle Paul said of his body; “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (Cor. 9:27). Jesus tells us the body is the territory of sin. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29-30). The source of sin is not in the members of our bodies. Jesus uses this illustration to show the extent one should sacrifice to rid a moral evil of the mind,

Jesus told the Pharisees where the source of sin was; He said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that man shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:34-37). Everyone of us, from the time he is born, has formed his heart (mind) with a storehouse of thoughts-those he believes to be valuable, good or bad. From this inward man we form our convictions and make our judgments of every situation. Our tongues only convey to others our inward thoughts.

Gossip is evil and slanderous. Those who gossip sow discord and do much harm. “An ungodly man diggeth up evil, and in his lips is a burning fire. A forward man soweth strife; and a whisperer separateth chief friends” (Prov. 16:27-28). Gossipers usually put much work in their evil purposes. Their lies produce strife and contention between some of the most peaceful and loving friends. This is why Paul wanted to see the younger widows married so they would not have time to fall into such situations. He described gossipers as “. . . not only idle, but tattlers also and busy bodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1Tim. 5:13). He gives the secret of preventing gossip: overcome it with a busy life and mind proper things.

Those who are not Christians look upon us as first hand examples of Christ-like people. If they see that gossip and other sins are characteristic of our lives, then we are not “shining lights” to the world. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busy body in other men’s matters” (1Pet. 4:15). When we gossip, we are meddlers in other people’s business. We show others that we are covetous, unwise, and misguided. Paul said, “. . . let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Eph. 5:3). Let us let our lips be “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

Truth Magazine XXI: 17, pp. 265-266
April 28, 1977