A thick, black liquid dripped from her mouth. Like oil, trickling down the side of an open grease canister, the dark liquescent spilled from her wide ingress. As the woman chattered and gossiped, the fluid spewed and sprayed droplets of enticing and thirst quenching dew. Like morsels to a ravenous animal or a farmer casting his seed into well-plowed vineyards, the spores of slander, gossip, defamation, and blather cultivate black vegetate into the hearts itching to hear the latest babble. The juicy rhetoric was directed towards the Apostle Paul. “But the Jews incited the devout, prominent women and the leading men of the city, and instigated persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them forcibly out of their district. But, they (Paul and Barnabas) shook its dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were continually filled [throughout their hearts and souls] with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:49). Proverbs 18:8, 26:22, “The words of a whisperer [gossip] are like dainty morsels [to be greedily eaten]; they go down into the innermost chambers of the body [to be remembered and mused upon].”
In the spiritual realm, gossip, slander, and idle chatter are a spiritual invitation, opening a door for a devious spirit to enter. If you can understand the mental picture of throwing a handful of feathers into a windy afternoon and watching the soft down plumes float and glide through the air, then you can comprehend the devastating affects of gossip and slander. Once the words are out of your mouth, you can never take them back. Once the feathers drift and float through the air, it is impossible to recover every one of them. We watch in horror as the feathers float away to some unknown destination, just as we sit in disbelieve finding out our juicy gossip was a lie or untrue and we were the instigator.
Webster’s Dictionary defines gossip as a rumor or report of an intimate nature, chatty talk, or a person who habitually reveals personal and sensational facts about others. Slander is defined as to defame or to harm the reputation by communicating false statements. The Lord is firm on His stance against gossiping, “You shall not go around as a gossip among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor [with slander or false testimony]; I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:16).
The Proverbs give insightful advice on gossiping, “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden (Proverbs 11:13). “A perverse man spreads strife, and one who gossips separates intimate friends” (Proverbs 16:28). “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends” (Proverbs 17:9). “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a gossip [who talks freely or flatters] (Proverbs 20:19). Finally, I like the way the MSG conveys gossiping, “Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?” (Proverbs 18:8).
The MSG translation reminds us slander and gossips are the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival. It is almost as if a person just can’t get enough of talking, being the “knowledgeable” one in the group, and sharing “prayer requests” so everyone will know what to pray for. Yes, we’ve all fallen victim to the spirit of gossip. I pray you have a repentant spirit and have rebuked the dark presence out of your life, including those who seem to love wallowing in the muck and mire of lurid slander.
“A soothing tongue [speaking words that build up and encourage] is a tree of life, but a pervasive tongue [speaking words that overwhelm and depress] crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words” (Proverbs 18:21). Our words have significant consequences, whether we want to agree with the Proverb or not. Once the fluid verbiage is out of your mouth, it travels and wanes through individuals dropping seeds of either good or evil. Trust me, people know whether you are a gossip or someone who is trustworthy. People know which group you belong to, and people know, if they want to hear the latest “news,” they will seek you out.
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards himself from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23). The spirit of gossip is deceptive and clever. If you debate within yourself whether you are gossiping, then I would choose not to reveal what you wrestle with in your spirit. If you have to question, then do not share what may or may not be gossip.
As Christians, we are to put off our former way of life, and draw closer to Christ. Jesus was not a gossiper. He did not tattletale to the Pharisees when Nicodemus came to Him in the night seeking truth. He did not blabber to all the other disciples when Peter rebuked Him three times. Jesus did not reveal all of the sinful woman’s sins as she lovingly washed His feet. No, our Lord was not a chinwag. The words I use are purposeful. It seems juvenile to tattle, chatter, blabber, and chinwag; we cannot see Christ doing these things. So, why then do we see Christians unable to control their mouths? It seems to be an oxymoron, a contradiction, a paradox, or a dichotomy to see Christ-followers, people who are suppose to imitate Christ, living as people who don’t know Him.
To win the battle against slander and gossip, I would begin a series of questions within my spirit. “Do I gossip? Why do I gossip? Do I believe it hurts people? Would Jesus share this knowledge? Do my friends gossip? Am I the instigator of gossip?” There are questions we need to inquire of ourselves, but also of God. Humans have a way of minimizing truth and deceiving our spirits, but God always reveals truth, if you want to know truth.
I would encourage you to find Scripture that speaks to your heart. Begin journaling your heart and innermost thoughts to the Lord. Do you gossip because you have been hurt? Do you gossip because you think people will like you? Do you gossip because you want to be in the “know?” Do you gossip because your parents gossiped? Where you gossiped about as a youth, vowing to never be at the receiving end again? These are questions where you will need to dig deep if you desire to rebuke and rid yourself of a spirit of gossip.
Repeating Scripture, worshiping, praying, and practicing to remain quiet are a journey you will take. You have trained your mouth to say any and all things, so now you will need to train your mouth to remain quiet. Begin, determined and intentional, to profess words of affirmation and encouragement; make a decision within your spirit, you will be this Christ-follower. Be a woman who uses her gift of words to be gracious and humble, praiseworthy and positive, uplifting and inspiring.
My heart prays this has planted a seed of truth in your spirit. I pray you begin to think about your words, whom you are talking and confiding with, and how God can reveal the deceptive spirit of gossip in your heart.