The Bible illustrates gossipers as secret slanders and people seducers, similar to snake charmers. They are people who are constantly speaking ill or evil of others. They like to focus on the negative aspects of the lives of others and portray them in a bad light. It is crucial to our own health that we know how to recognize this destructive behavior and respond correctly.
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Pet. 3:9-11
Gossip Is Secret Slander
There are two Greek words in the Bible which are translated into the English word, gossip (1, 2). One of those words means: a whispering, secret slandering, like the magical murmuring of a charmer of snakes. The other word essentially means: to be simple, entice, deceive, persuade, or to seduce. In other words, gossip is secret slandering or the use of words to manipulate, control, or create a stunned state in an attempt to produce the desire of the gossiper.
Since gossip is secret slander, it’s important that we understand what slander is. Slander is public negative speaking to belittle and dishonor. It is speaking ill of someone to diminish their worth, honor, or reputation in the eyes of others. Slander is spreading negative words or giving a bad report of someone to discredit, disgrace, or disrespect them. The only thing worse than a secret slanderer is a overt slanderer.
Level 1: Simple Babbling
A simple babbler is a person who either doesn’t understand or doesn’t respect personal boundaries. This is the first level of gossip. Proverbs 20:19 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.” The Hebrew word translated simple babbler means, “one who is simple in his lips.” Parents often have to correct their children for doing this because they don’t understand that it’s not appropriate to say some things to others.
Unfortunately, many adults are simple babblers as well. A simple babbler does not guard the dignity and honor of others. That’s why Proverbs 11:13 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” If you want to keep your own dignity and honor intact, you have to guard against simple babblers because it’s only a matter of time before you become the subject of their babbling.
Level 2: Self-Exaltation
A person who is trying to elevate themselves above others will often become intentionally spiteful toward others. In other words, this is a person who uses words to try to make themselves look better by casting others in a bad light. This is the second level of gossip.
Haughty arrogance goes hand-in-hand with slander. Remember, gossip is secret slander. Psalms 101:5 says, “Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.”
Level 3: Character Assassination
Character assassination is the third and most overtly violent form of gossip. Psalms 140:11 says, “Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!” A slanderer is a violent person who attacks people’s character. A gossiper simply does it in secret. The Bible declares that a slanderer should not receive an established position because it implies validity and influence in the eyes of others.
A character assassin will often employ misleading half-truths, exaggerations, manipulation, and even intentional lies because they are desperate to establish themselves as a voice of authority.
The Right Response
Obviously, a simple babbler should be corrected. The words of a person trying to exalt themselves should not be entertained. And a character assassin should be swiftly dealt with before they do more harm to themselves and others. However, there are three additional responses that you should employ when dealing with a gossiper.
First, you should believe for the best in spite of what you are told. Isn’t this the character of love that 1 Corinthians 13:7 proclaims to us? It encourages us to look for the good and celebrate it. Love is not naive, but it does believe for the best. Believing for the best is a choice.
Secondly, you should act in the opposite spirit. You must decide to believe for the best in people and deliberately portray them in the best light. Again, it’s a choice to honor, respect, and guard the dignity of others.
Thirdly, you should show love, do good, and bless the person that is gossiping — even when you are the target of their gossip. 1 Corinthians 4:12-13 says, “… When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat…”
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for eighteen years, and is the proud father of two boys.