Gossip - n. idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others; a conversation involving malicious talk about other people
Strife - n. 1. angry or violent struggle; conflict 2. rivalry or contention, esp. of a bitter kind 3. trouble or discord of any kind.
Slander - n. a malicious, false and defamatory statement or report
Defame - n. to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious.
What David and Solomon say: (and, while lengthy, please take the time to read them all)
Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip
Hiding hatred makes you a liar; slandering others makes you a fool.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride.
I am attacked by people I don’t even know; they slander me constantly.
Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.
A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends
A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
If it is so abundantly clear in the book we hold most sacred to our faith that God HATES this - why do we so consistently engage in it anyway? There are probably other reasons, but here are a few I believe are true:
Insecurity - if I'm pointing out your faults, maybe others won't notice mine.
Revenge - you hurt me, so I will hurt you, by making sure everyone knows what you did. If I am hurt, everyone else should be too, or at least they will know how much you hurt me.
Pride - my sin is minimal, insignificant even, compared with yours.
Manipulation - I can often get what I want out of a situation by tearing you down.
I wish we could realize that the person we are gossiping about, or slandering, is often living in their own guilt and shame over their choices and actions - even when they don't act like they have any shame or remorse (they KNOW what they've done). When we add to that by re-telling the story, embellishing, filling in gaps, exaggerating, often out-right lying, and spreading it to others - most of whom have no reason or need to know - we are driving them further away from right choices and better decisions.
This area has not been a huge stronghold for me, but it does seem there are always, in every season of my life, at least a couple of people that have either deeply hurt me or someone I love, or just rub me the WRONG way. And in those circumstances, I find that it is sometimes easy to gossip.
I've begun to ask myself some questions before I speak:
1. Why do I feel compelled to say this? The answer is very telling. It will often take me back to one of the reasons I listed above and will shut me up before I even begin. The problem often lies, at least partially, with me. ThatI can work on.
2. Does the person I'm talking to need to know for this situation to get better? The people that need to know is usually a very. short. list.
3. Would this problem be better resolved by talking to the person rather than about them? If we would seek restoration and forgiveness, if we would clear the air quickly, with the people that have harmed us, the felt need to gossip would often dissolve on it's own.
4. Would I care if the person I'm talking to told the person I'm talking about what I said? Often, we feel it needs to remain a secret, perhaps because it's been embellished to the point of falsehood, we're hiding our own culpability in the situation, or we haven't yet attempted to reconcile with our "enemy" - we've just chosen to talk about them instead.
5. Am I reflecting the character of God in what I'm about to say? He calls us to forgive, He tells us to trust Him that He will take care of injustice. When I react instead of trusting, when I hit twitter and facebook to tell the world how awful they are, when I tell everyone I know "something to pray about", I'm showing others around me that God cannot be trusted to take care of me.
There are times we need to talk. We need to seek counsel, we need to seek help or safety, we need to vent to the one person we can trust. But so often that is not the case. When I take the time to ask myself these questions first, I rarely need to continue speaking.
And one other thing I'd like to have the guts to do -- I want to have the guts to confront it where I see it. To call it gossip when it's coming into my circles. To say, "Do you mind if I tell them what you're about to say?" or "Have you talked to them about this first?" or "Is this gossip? Because it sounds like gossip." I'm betting most of us would stop if we thought someone was gonna call a spade a spade...
So many are hurt.
So many are completely destroyed.
All to satisfy our own lust to feel better about ourselves.
We need to just shut up.
We need to stop.
"Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?...
Those who refuse to gossip
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends."