Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Erick Raymond’s observation is spot on when he says “it seems that sometimes we deal with sin in the church with the same approach that the government deals with terrorism: It is impossible to remove it completely so we just kind of have to accept it and do our best to keep people safe.”[1] Gossip is spreading information about someone in a malicious way (negative way) to people who do not need to know with the obvious goal of trying to tarnish their character or personality. And wherever there is gossip you are almost guaranteed to find slander, malice, strife, lies and dissension.

While gossip is obvious in most cases it can also be dangerously subtle as it comes out in many “spiritual” ways. As a result we no longer call it gossip but confiding, consulting, sharing, showing concern, venting, seeking counsel, I want to hear you opinion and in some cases sharing a prayer request ETC. Now while there may be a place and time for each of those things, in many cases what we are basically doing is sharing information about others in a negative way to people who do not need to know. And because of this subtlety it has become harder to identify and deal with gossip in churches. So how do you stop the cancer of gossip? Dan Phillips offers five questions[2] to ask people who are sharing things with you as a way of curbing gossip.  

  1. Ask, "Why are you telling me this?" Often, that in itself is such a focusing question that it can bring an end to the whole unpleasant chapter. It has the added benefit that it can help a person whose intentions are as good as his/her judgment is bad.
  2. Ask, "What's the difference between what you're telling me and gossip?" See above; same effect, same potential benefits.
  3. Ask, "How is your telling me that thought, that complaint, that information going to help you and me love God and our brothers better, and knit us closer together as a church in Christ's love?" Isn't that the goal we should share, every one of us? Won't it take the working of each individual member (Eph. 4:16)? Isn't the watch-out for harmful influences an every-member ministry (Heb. 3:12-1310:2413:12-15)?
  4. Ask, "Now that you've told me about that, what are you going to do about it?" While the previous two are subjective, this is not. If neither of the previous two questions succeeded in identifying gossip/whispering/sowing-dissension for what they are, the answer to this question will do so. Tip: if the answer is "Pray," a good response might be "Then why didn't you do that and leave it there in the first place?"
  5. Say, "Now that you've told me about that, you've morally obligated me to make sure you talk to ____ about it. How long do you think you need, so I can know when this becomes a sin that I will need to confront in you?" The least that this will accomplish is that you'll fall of the list of gossips'/whisperers' favorite venting-spots. The most is that you may head off a church split, division, harmed souls, sidelined Gospel ministry, and waylaid discipleship. Isn't that worth it?
I believe the reason gossip thrives in churches is because it finds fertile hearts and minds that are ready to listen and spread it further. For gossip to take place there are three parties involved. The victim of the gossip, the gossiper and the person receiving the gossip. If everyone in the church refused to accept or entertain gossip, the sin will be totally cut off. Believers need to heed the warning of the wise man in proverbs.
There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him: . . .
one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:1619

[1] https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/erikraymond/2015/05/04/how-to-shut-down-gossip/
[2] http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-shut-down-gossip-and-its-nasty.html

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