My Name is Gossip
Many people consider gossip to be a harmless pastime.
What about you?
“My Name Is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I
am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed. I flourish
at every level of society. My victims are helpless. They
cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name
and no face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the
more elusive I become. I am nobody's friend. Once I tarnish
a reputation, it is never the same. I topple governments
and ruin marriages. I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights,
heartache and indigestion. I spawn suspicion and generate
I make innocent people cry in their pillows. Even my name
hisses. I AM CALLED GOSSIP.”
This eye-opening poem from an unknown author says a lot
about the damage done through gossip. What about the famous
phrase we all have heard. "Sticks and stones may break
my bones, but words will never hurt me"? In our hearts,
we know this is not true, even though it may be a useful
attitude to take when insulted by others. Reciting those
words does not take the hurt away.
Words do tremendous damage. So unless you've been a victim
of violent crime or of a major illness or something else
catastrophic, your deepest pains have probably come from
WORDS HAVE GREAT POWER
Words carry great power. God created the world through His
words. He said, "Let there be light" and there
was light. Humans also use words in producing great novels
that move us and music that warms our hearts. Writers put
much thought into the right selection of words so their books
or songs will sell.
We listen and communicate words every day that either lift
us up or bring us down. Powerful, positive words can offer
great healing, while negative words contain great destructive
Whenever we talk negatively about people or listen to someone
else talk negatively about others, we unleash that harmful
power. So how do we use this power of words with others?
Do our words lift and inspire, or do they destroy? Are they
words of truth? Do we disclose truth in a hurtful way? If
someone paid us 10 cents for every kind word we said about
people, and collected five cents for every unkind word, would
we be rich or poor?
Gossip and slander can ruin reputations, families, break
up marriages, separate friends, destroy communities and,
yes, even divide churches. Knowing that gossip is so destructive,
why do we do it?
WHY DO WE GOSSIP?
We often gossip to feel good about ourselves. We get an
ego boost from others' sins and mistakes. To gossip makes
us feel superior to the person we are talking about. (Pride)
We also gossip to draw people into our own hurt and anger.
We want others to side with us so we must tell our side of
the story. Then our friends repeat the story to their friends
and on and on it goes. Even if you say the truth, it does
not justify unnecessarily passing on hurtful information
FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS
Gossip is a six-letter word that produces emotions of excitement,
pain or guilt, depending on if you are the gossiper, or if
you are the one being gossiped about.
Excitement comes from gossip because it is human nature
to want to hear dirt on others and repeat it. Look at all
the tabloids sold at the grocery counters filled with dirt
about the rich and famous. It is fun to read and listen to
gossip about others until it is about us. Proverbs 20:19
says, “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth
secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with
We should realize that participating in negative conversations
harms us spiritually; it creates confusion that can lead
Pain comes when we are on the receiving end of the gossip
trail. Speaking ill of others is particularly bad because
words, once uttered, can never be recalled. Consider the
following story illustrating this point.
There was a man in a small town who went around slandering
a minister. One day, feeling bad about what he had done,
he went to the minister to ask for forgiveness.
"Take a pillow," said the minister, "cut
it up and shake out the feathers." The man did as he
was told and then he returned to the minister hoping to now
"First," said the minister, "go collect all
"But that's impossible," said the man. "They've
"It's as impossible to repair the damage done by your
words as it is to recover all the feathers," said the
President Reagan's first Labor Secretary, Raymond Donavan,
resigned from his post after numerous rumors that he'd done
wrong. After spending more than a million dollars in legal
fees to defend himself, Donovan was cleared of all charges.
Coming out of the courtroom to talk to reporters, he asked: "Where
do I go to get my reputation back?"
Gossip also hurts the gossiper. According to psychiatrist
Antonio Wood, when you speak ill of someone, you alienate
yourself from that person. Say bad things about many people
and your words will separate you from them.
Guilt is an emotion we feel when we know in our hearts that
it is wrong to slander and talk about someone behind his
or her back. Have you ever tried to look someone in the eye
after you have talked about him or her behind his or her
Guilt also comes when we don't follow the biblical principle
that says, Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against
thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone:
if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (Matthew
Gossip may be fun for a moment, but in the end it will only
produce hurt, guilt and pain.
HOW CAN WE AVOID GOSSIPING?
· Seek a repentant and clean heart from God so you'll
have the power to resist talking negatively about others.
Take a look at the attitudes you hold and the comments you
make. Examine why you are tempted to speak negatively and
pray for God to give you the strength to confront and overcome
those temptations. Confess the times you've gossiped or criticized
in the past, and invite God to transform you. Release any
pride or fear that is obstructing you from making the changes
you would like, and be open to God's correction and guidance.
· Pray for people you have hurt—either purposely
or inadvertently by speaking negatively about them. Ask God
to heal them. Also pray for people who have hurt you in the
past through their negative words about you. Forgive them
and ask God to let them be aware of His loving presence with
· Pray for God to give you wisdom in such situations.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him
ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth
not; and it shall be given him.”
· We can ask God to help us resist being pulled into
negative conversations. How can we do this?
· When someone approaches us and begins talking negatively
about someone, we can try to determine the speaker's motivation
and encourage accountability by asking questions such as, "Is
this something I need to hear about?" "Who told
you this information?" "Have you spoken to those
people who are directly involved with this situation?" and "Before
you share any further, what are you expecting from me?"
· Use powerful positive words to heal when confronted
with destructive, negative words. Respond to gossip or criticism
with encouraging words about the person being talked about.
As Ephesians 4:29 explains, " (Ephesians 4:29) “Let
no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that
which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister
grace unto the hearers.”
· Think. Another key to positive communication is
to subscribe to the simple formula "THINK" before
speaking of any person or subject that is controversial.
T--Is it True?
H--Is it Helpful?
I--Is it Inspiring?
N--Is it Necessary?
K--Is it Kind?
If what we are about to say does not pass these tests, we
should keep our mouths shut.
· Finally, remember the little saying that tells
us what kind of minds we have: Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
The apostle Paul provides a key for incorporating these
concepts, saying, (Philippians 4:8) “Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever
things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think
on these things.”
By applying his instruction, gossip can be stopped. Let
us all strive to use the power of our words for healing.