Psst! Heard any good gossip lately? No, I’m not talking about that juicy tidbit of gossip that tastes good when first swallowed but curdles in one’s spirit as soon as it is digested. I’m not talking about the type of news that makes you rub your hands together in glee because you just knew the ‘truth’ would come out. No, destructive, manipulative, vindictive, and secretive gossip is never productive. Enough scriptures warn us to keep away from this sort of speech, I won’t go into them here. We are cautioned to stay away from evildoers who delight in the downfall of others.
So then, what type of gossip am I talking about? Is there such a thing as ‘good’ gossip? I firmly believe the answer is yes! Can you encourage and bless others by speaking behind their backs? I resoundingly say, Yes and Amen! Is there gossip that spurs us on to good works? Yes! Not only does it spur us on to good works, but it also speaks new life, creates new dreams, and brings forth blessings.
Have you ever passed by a group of people and heard your name mentioned in a positive light? Have you ever met someone for the first time, only for him or her to say, “Oh, I’ve heard such good things about you!” Have you ever felt that rush of happiness when someone notices you in a room and waves you over, exclaiming, “We were just talking about you!” By the expressions on the faces of everyone involved with the conversation, you can tell they were speaking well of you. Have you felt that deep sense of relief and gratitude when you heard that a friend defended your character in your absence? That is the type of good gossip I am talking about! It tastes good on the tongue and feels even better in your spirit.
What’s the point? “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you!“ (Luke 6:31) If you want to be blessed, bless others first. Let the words of your mouth be uplifting and encouraging. Be the first to look for the good in others and be the first to share that good with others.
Begin to look for the good, and you’ll be surprised what good you will find. You’ll even notice it in those people with whom you have not yet developed a heart connection. You’ll discover traits that once bothered you in a person now are qualities you admire. What once looked like nit-picking perfectionism now resembles a heart that wants to give its best to God and others. Diligently hunt for the hidden treasure.
When people try to draw you into a group that is intent on malicious gossip, swallow any fear of man and speak the truth in love. Build a dyke of edification against the rising tides of maliciousness and pettiness that threaten to erode the works of God. Not only do you protect the gossip’s target, but you hinder the meddlers from causing further damage. Lead by example, raising good points about the gossip’s target. If the ungodly conversation continues, walk away. If a brother or sister has a grievance with another Christian and speaks maliciously about them in your presence, bring the following passage to your remembrance.
Matthew 18:15 — “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Shut your ears to prayer requests that are nothing more than thinly disguised rumours. Be the one person with whom your friends know they should not share gossip. Pray that others will follow your example.
With an attitude of love and humility, don’t be afraid to ask others the following questions:
- How do they know the validity of what they are sharing?
- Have they attempted to reconcile with the person who offended them? Have they asked God for clarity?
- If they are sharing second-hand information, why do they feel you need to know that information?
When you’re tempted to bring charges against another believer, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I seeking vindication?
- Am I trying to justify harbouring unforgiveness?
- Am I attempting to preserve my right to be right?
- Will I bring encouragement to the hearer of my words?
- Does the hearer of my words need to know this information?
- Would I say these things in the presence of the one of whom I am speaking?
Be the first to brag about those who have blessed you. Be the first to share the good news and be the first to point out those people who are a blessing to you and the body of Christ.
Yes, there is such a thing as good gossip. Earnestly seek the gift of encouragement.
Here are a few scriptures for further thought:
Psalm 37:30 — “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.”
Proverbs 31:8 — “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
1 Peter 4:10-11 — “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 4:29 — “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Excerpt from “Not Always All Together” by Katherine Walden
©1997, 2021 Katherine Walden