- It is usually unverified information and always denigrating to others. Gossip is "idle talk or rumor, especially about personal or private affairs of others" (Wikipedia). Gossip is different than sharing our opinion for it goes to the motivations or actions of others and is generally destructive in nature. Scriptures are clear that gossip is wrong. Gossip includes questioning the motives of others, passing along third party information as fact, and denigrating others. Disagreement or stating our views is not gossip, it is simply defining what we are thinking.
- It is nearly impossible to take back. Even when we recognize that we have done wrong in participating in gossip it has now been passed along to others whom we don't know about and thus it is nearly impossible to take back. Gossip quickly takes on a life of its own.
- It harms another's reputation and they can do nothing about it. The target of gossip hears the rumors of what is being said but they don't know where it is coming from or who has shared it and therefor they cannot do anything about the false information being shared. All those who have been targets of gossip (and I have) know how discouraging it is to have non-truths or half-truths being shared that are harmful to one's reputation without a way to counter that information.
- It is a coward's way of communication. Cowards share information that they do not know to be true from first-hand knowledge to people other than the one they should be talking to if at all. If I have an issue with an individual, or a question about their actions my responsibility is to talk to them, not others about them. With gossip, rather than doing just that we talk to those who we think will agree with us and who will take up our cause. It is cowardly, and slanderous.
- It harms the reputation of Jesus when it takes place within the Christian community which it does all the time. It hurts the reputation of Jesus first because it is bad behavior by those who bear his name. Second, since it is often malicious and untrue, but targeted at other believers it hurts their reputation unfairly and therefor that of Jesus whom they represent. I suspect that Jesus is not happy when His reputation is sullied by His people!
- It continues to spread regardless of its truth. Have you ever heard an urban myth? These are stories started years ago which continue to circulate on the internet like the FCC revoking all Christian radio stations generating thousands of letters to them a year over an issue that it patently false. No matter what they say the letters keep coming. This is the problem with gossip. It continues to spread regardless of its truth for years and even for decades and often becomes known as "truth" since it has been circulating for so long.
- When targeted at Christian leaders or ministries it often ends up on the internet which others then take as gospel! Media, whether the internet or email makes it possible for gossip or untruths to spread faster than ever before. Thus things we say or write to others can be spread far and wide making our culpability greater than we ever managed.
Scripture has a lot to say about slander - something God hates according to Proverbs. Slander is designed to hurt the reputation of others and it is ubiquitous within many Christian circles. At the least it does not reflect the character of our God and at the worst we will one day answer for every word we have spoken, good or bad.
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