What Is a Gossip?

by Floyd Chappelear
Sentry Magazine, March 2000

Too many people think that "gossip" is the communication of information. Not so. The household of Chloe told the apostle Paul about some unflattering things that pertained to the saints at Corinth (I Corinthians 1:11). Paul was given a unique opportunity to lambast them for gossip but did not do so. Why? They had communicated information not to the detriment of the saints but for the benefit of them. Paul used the information to deal with important matters which dared not be neglected. Hence, gossip is not the mere communication of information.

Gossip is the spreading of tales (whether true or false) for the sake of damaging others. The motive is what contributes greatly to the sin. In fact, some reach the unwarranted conclusion that "talebearing" means that one is conveying false information. Not so. It is the distribution of information that should not be told. It is used that way in numerous passages (see Proverbs 11:13; 20:19). ln fact, the gossip is one who will never tell a lie if he can do as much damage with the truth.

The intent of the gossip (the talebearer) is to foment strife. Consider: "the words of a talebearer are as wounds" (Proverbs 18:8), and "where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth" (Proverbs 26:20).

It was pointed out that on the Internet certain people spread a tale concerning a fine brother solely for the sake of causing harm to the reputation or influence of the brother. Those who engaged in such activities are gossips in spite of the fact they may claim to be telling the truth. Let us never forget this one thing: Truth can be told maliciously (or with intent to bring harm).

The best example of this that I can think of is Philippians chapter one. Some were preaching the Christ for the sake of bringing injury to the apostle Paul. They were teaching the truth with malicious intent. Now, in closing, have any of us been guilty of gossip (not the dissemination of facts, but having the intent to harm)? Think about these things.


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