Many women believe that gossiping consists of malicious speech or that it only matters where your heart is when you talk. I disagree with that and here is why.
Here is a good rule of thumb when deciding what gossip is:
1) Is it TRUE?
2) Is it NEEDFUL?
3) Is it KIND?
4) Is it HELPFUL?
Now, it must meet all 4 requirements, not just one. If it is true and yet, it is not needful….. it is gossip. If it is true and is not kind to repeat, it is gossip. If its helpful and true…. and yet it is not really needful….. it is gossip.
The best way to measure yourself or others speech to see if it may be gossip is to go to God’s Word.
I think the very best verse about gossip is this:
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. Proverbs 20:19
As you can see, gossip doesn’t necessarily have to be “malicious” in order to betray a confidence.
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Proverbs 17:27,28
James 3:1-12 explains in detail the importance of taming our tongue.
Many women have a really hard time controlling their tongues. So many women think they have to “know’. So many women think they have to ‘tell’. When in truth, it is neither necessary or important that they possess or share knowledge about other people.
Gossiping brings a feeling of importance to people, it brings attention. I have known a woman who disguised her gossip in the form of prayer requests. I was fooled by it once, but I will never be fooled by it again. God knows what we all need, I only have to lift up a name or identify a person in some way in my mind and ask God to have His will in that life. I don’t need to tell God who it is and what the situation is. He knows.
Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that you cannot pray “effectively” for another person unless you know all the details of the situation. That is a lie of the enemy which tempts the base nature is us that needs to know and tell.
We must ask ourselves WHY we want to tell something we know. And we must ask WHY we want to hear something about others. It is out of curiosity? Is it because we think we cannot pray correctly if we do not know? Neither are valid reasons.
If someone wants to share about their own life with me, I will always listen. In that case the information is coming from the first source and God may give me some wisdom to impart or simply prompt me to pray. However, I have learned that most ‘telling’ comes from an immature need for attention and I refuse to participate in it.
Its important not to participate in gossip even when its uncomfortable to extricate one’s self. One way that works for me is to say, “I know that you are concerned for Sue but I don’t believe we should be discussing this. Let’s pray right now for her.” And I lead the prayer so that there will be no more gossip. Sometimes I actually ask the Lord to forgive us for participating in what amounts to gossip.
Or, if the occasion doesn’t lend itself to immediate prayer, I will say, “Lets not talk about it anymore, lets just take it to the Lord.”
Now, sometimes the gossip is really heavy duty and obvious. In those occasions, I simply say, “We should not be talking about this.” And then I either change the subject or excuse myself and leave.
I encourage you to stand up against the temptation to gossip in your life. Take a hard stance against it. A gentle woman can be hard against sin. Expect the devil to tempt you the more! And call on God’s power to withstand that temptation. Be a woman of God. Be known for your hard stand against gossip this year.