Thesis: A Christian does not talk about the private affairs of others.


1. Two weeks ago I preached a sermon entitled, "Taming the Tongue."

a. I received a lot of feedback on it, even though it was general.

b. Like to follow up that lesson with a much more practical one on gossip.

2. You and I don't take the sin of gossip as seriously as we ought.

a. We would if we understood it better.

b. Seems like a small sin when compared to others.

c. It is not a small sin to God (cf. Rom. 1:28-32).


A. Some definitions:

1. Random House College Dictionary: "Idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others."

a. I think most of us know what we're talking about.

b. Talk about a person (true or not!) showing them in a less than positive light!

2. There are times, of course, when truth about others, however harsh, must be shared with third parties.

a. Those times are few and far between.

b. We should always exercise great care in talking to someone else about a person who is not present.

B. Here's the key for getting a handle on gossip--it is information about another person TRUE or NOT, showing them in a less than positive light.

1. Hebrew word for "slander" simply means "bad report."

a. It's what Joseph did to his brothers (Gen. 37:2).

b. There was a law against this sort of thing in Israel (Lev. 19:16).

c. Illust. Debbie Scales, in an article in Christian Woman magazine, says: "This verse brings to mind the picture of a person making her way through the ranks of the already murmuring and unhappy Israelite travelers. As she goes up and down among the people, she whispers the latest news of the camp. `Don't quote me on this, but I've heard that Moses may be on his way out. There are other men, you know, who could lead just as well as Moses anyway--probably better. And by the way, have you noticed how the Zuriel family is always the first group out to gather manna every morning? I probably shouldn't even mention it, but there's no need to be greedy, if you ask me. Oh, there go those rambunctious Ashbel boys again! I do wish their parents would control them a little better. I don't like to talk about people, but he way they let those boys behave is just a shame!'" ("I Don't Mean to Gossip, but ..." in Christian Woman 3, Sept/Oct 1987, p. 17).

2. The NT has two interesting words regarding this sin of the tongue.

a. Katalaleo ("slander").

b. Psithuristas ("gossip"; KJV--"whisperers").

c. Illust. Only difference between "gossip" and "slander" is one of degrees. Suppose you wanted to kill someone. More than one way to do it. Take a shotgun, walk right up to their face, announce that you're going to shoot them, and then blow them away. That's slander. Or, you could take a rifle with a scope. Attach a silencer to it, hide yourself a safe distance away, kill them from long-distance. Never know what hit them. That's gossip.


A. Eph. 4:29-32.

B. Phil. 4:8.

Wouldn't this old world be better

If folks we meet would say,

I know something good about you!

And then treat you that way?

Wouldn't it be fine and dandy,

If each handclasp warm and true

Carried with it this assurance,

I know something good about you!

Wouldn't life be lots more happy

If the good that's in us all,

Were the only thing about us,

That folks bothered to recall?

Wouldn't life be lots more happy,

If we praised the good we see?

For there's a lot of goodness

In the worst of you and me.

Wouldn't it be nice to practice

That fine art of thinking too?

You know something good about me!

I know something good about you!

2. Illust. Ann Landers column--"Gem of the Day": "People of high intelligence talk about ideas. People of average intelligence talk about things. People of no intelligence talk about other people. Where are you in the lineup?"


A. If you can't say something good about someone, say nothing (Rom. 12:10).

B. Keep private matters private (Prov. 11:13; 25:9-10).

C. Watch out for places & situations where gossip is likely to happen. (Friends ... family dinner table ... Life-Support Groups where you're "sharing concerns" ... group after church in home/restaurant).

D. Do not allow gossip to go unchallenged. (Various approaches)

1. Constructive: "Now, how can we help this person?"

2. Subtle: Smile sweetly & say, "I'm feeling very uncomfortable with this conversation."

3. Matt. 18:15: "Have you gone to speak with this person privately?"

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