Each of the following verses is missing the same word. What is it?
“A ______ betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” - Proverbs 11:13
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a ______ separates close friends.” - Proverbs 16:28
“The words of a _____ are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” - Proverbs 18:8
“A _____ betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.” - Proverbs 20:19
“Without wood a fire goes out; without a ______ a quarrel dies down.” - Proverbs 26:20
“The words of a _____ are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” - Proverbs 26:22
Referring to the wicked, “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 _______s…” - Romans 1:29
“For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, ______, arrogance and disorder.” - 2 Corinthians 12:20
What word could it be? It’s something that is very natural for people to do and you might even be called a _____ if you do this activity regularly which is how it’s used in Romans 1:29. If you don’t know what word it is yet I’d encourage you to look one of the verses up.
These are actually all the verses that use the word gossip in the NIV of the Bible. What an interesting little study! I didn’t realize there were two proverbs that said the exact same thing about gossip but we’ll come back to that later.
Before we go any further, what is gossip? According to google gossip is, “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”
Wikipedia says, “Gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.”
One article I read said, “gossip is sharing information that ought not be shared. It may or may not be true.”
Gossip is different than slander. Slander is when something is said that is false for the purpose of damaging someone’s reputation. Gossip may be true or it may be untrue. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it should be shared. There are private things that should be kept private. I’m reminded of Jesus words about resolving conflict in Matthew 18 and the principle He gives us is to solve conflicts at the lowest level possible meaning, we don’t spread the problem by triangulating with a bunch of other people because it’s easier than a direct conversation with the person we may be at odds with. Triangulation only makes the problem bigger and then it does exactly what the proverbs above warn about, it separates close friends and enflames quarrels. Terrible stuff can happen with a few careless words. The new testament passages above lump what we may try to excuse as innocent gossip with things like deceit, malice, fits of rage and murder. Proverbs 11:13 and 20:19 says gossip is betrayal. No one wants to be known as a betrayer. We typically associate one person with that word before all others: Judas.
Logical conclusion, don’t do it. Don’t gossip. Proverbs 20:19 says to keep your distance from those who talk too much. But what about those two verses (Proverbs 18:18 and 26:22) that touch on how delicious gossip is to us? Why is it so satisfying? Is it because we have so much power in our tongues? Maybe that’s why it was Satan’s chosen method for starting his war in heaven. Yet another person we don’t want to be like.
I can’t pretend I know why everyone gossips but I know that God has a much higher purpose for His church and all of our mouths. It is something the Holy Spirit (someone we want to be associated with) does. It’s something the apostles (others we should strive to be like) did for the church and this word is a much stronger focal point in Scripture with about 50 positive references. I’ll just share one verse from the conclusion of one of Paul’s letters where he addresses God’s desire for us in this regard. 2 Corinthians 13:11 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” We are to encourage one another in God’s ways!
God doesn’t want us to divide and destroy but to restore and build the church into a safe place of refuge for other sinners looking for healing in Him. Let us be for others what we would hope to find, treat others how we would want to be treated. As we encourage one another we will experience the God of love and peace with us. We won’t just be associated with Him, we will actually be with Him.
There’s an old song that says, “you can talk about me just as much as you please, I’ll talk about you down on my knees. I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more.” Don’t repay evil for evil if you know others are talking about you. If we have to talk to someone about people, let’s talk about them to God. As the Psalmist exemplified, you can be as real as you want with Him. Complain about people if you must, but pray for even your enemies and ask for God’s heart for all the people Jesus died for. Then we’ll all be more united, strong, and joyful as we interact with one another and seek to reveal God’s good and gracious character to the world.
Recently I was talking to God about someone I was frustrated with. He mediated between us and let me know that the person just didn’t know what they were talking about. They were saying the terrible things they were saying about people I care about because they didn’t know what I knew. They didn’t have all the information and were jumping to conclusions. It truly helped me to simply sense God saying, they don’t know. I encourage you, try talking to God about them, the people in your life that hurt you, anger you, confuse you, and amuse you. Whatever it is, bring them to Jesus, talk about them to Him, and He will guide and encourage you and fill you with His compassion for our brothers and sisters all around us. - Pastor Nick