What are the Harmful Effects of Gossip?
Have you ever been a victim of gossip? Why do people gossip and what are the dangers of gossiping about others? What does the Bible say about gossiping?
Gossip is defined as the following:
casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true;
conversation or reports about other people’s private lives that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true
People usually gossip in order to hurt others or to feel a sense of control or power. Other people gossip because they seek attention and it makes them feel good about themselves.
Gossiping or bearing false witness is listed as one of the 7 things that God hates.
Proverbs 6:16-19 says: 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.” [Emphasis Added]
In Romans 1:29-32 the sin of gossip is so serious to God that gossipers are characterized as people who are under God’s wrath.
Therefore a culture of gossiping is a sin which God takes very seriously because of the negative impact that such a sin has upon other people and also upon the gossiper too.
4 Dangers of Gossiping About Others
1. Gossip can destroy a person’s reputation
Creating or spreading false or exaggerated reports about other people has the impact of tarnishing the reputation of the people we gossip about.
Exodus 23:1 says: You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.
2. Gossip ruins relationships and creates discord
When a gossip spreads misinformation about another person, the gossiper is able to cause division or turn others against his victim. The Bible reveals that a false witness or slanderer can sow division among others (Proverbs 1:19).
Proverbs 16:28 says: A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
3. Gossip harms the self-esteem of others
People who’ve been victims of other people’s gossip have either gone into depression, had feelings of fear and anxiety and some have committed suicide. Therefore when a gossiper spreads rumours and lies about others, this can have both physical and psychological effects on the victims.
Leviticus 19:16 says: You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.
4. Gossip gives birth to other sins
A culture of gossiping gives birth to many other sins, such as: a spirit of judgmentalism, a spirit of pride or narcissism, a culture of lying and a desire to control and manipulate.
Therefore the gossiper will not only endeavor to harm his/her victims, but he/she will also aim to manipulate and control the emotions and thoughts of his/her audience by gossiping.
Psalms 31:18 says: Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.
How Should You Respond to Gossip?
- Do not listen to rumours or gossip about someone else without hearing or understanding both sides of the story.
- Stay away from people who gossip to you, because one day they will also gossip about you.
- Do not judge or condemn people based on gossip.
- Learn to discern or examine the motives of the gossiper. For example: Is the gossiper seeking revenge by gossiping about someone else?
- Be Biblical in your reaction to gossip and how you listen and use your words
- Do not associate with people who gossip or spread lies about other people. Bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Proverbs 20:19 says: Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler
Matthew 12:36 says: I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak
James 1:26 says: If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
Ephesians 4:29 says: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
The sin of gossip is harmful to others and it creates division. Gossip can have mental and spiritual repercussions on its victims. Furthermore, a culture of gossip can store up God’s wrath against the gossiper.
If you’ve been a victim of gossip – let God fight your battles; do not allow the false reports of others to dictate your life and emotions; focus on Christ and continue to focus on doing God’s will.
Therefore we should learn to control how we speak and ensure that we do not spread lies or indulge in gossip about other people.
Psalms 141:3 says: Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!