Why does the Bible warn us to stay away from gossip and to run away from gossipers?
It is wicked entertainment (Proverbs 18:8) It corrupts a person (2 Timothy 2:16) It is among the things that God hates (Proverbs 6:19) It is destructive and corrupts the speaker and listener (Proverbs 17:4) It produces hatred (Proverbs 26:20-28).
Gossip is the venom that paralyzes. It paralyzes purpose. It paralyzes unity. It paralyzes peace. It paralyzes relationships. It paralyzes transformation. It paralyzes progress. This paralysis can affect the gossiper and the unrestrained listener.
The profile of a Gossip: - A gossip talks too much (Proverbs 10:19) - A gossip will not flinch at speaking against of his own brother (Psalm 50:19-21) - A gossip is a busybody - always talking about another's business (1 Timothy 5:13). - A gossip hates (Proverbs 26:26). - A gossip is liar and equivocator. - A gossip spreads their gossip as "concern." (Proverbs 29:19). - A gossip separates friends (Proverbs 16:28). - A gossip prefers to live in offense/unresolved conflict instead of establishing a resolution (Pride). - A gossip is a fake friend (Psalm 41:6) - A gossip poses as a defender, they pretend to care about justice.
How can we avoid and/or overcome the venomous impact of gossip/gossipers?
The truth is that everyone has been guilty of some level of gossip, incidental or perpetual. But it is refreshing to discern the wheels of gossip turning and wisely refusing to engage. Wisdom will stop the gossip in mid-sentence and redirect the conversation.
It is honorable to speak with dignity, truth, and decorum. It is better to speak life and to demonstrate respect and love. It is wise to resolve conflict instead of spreading a matter. We should strive for unity instead of discord. We should seek peace and not vindication.
Above all, it is right to love! Love covers, it cares, it is without duplicity, it defends with sincerity, it is not easily offended, love builds up, love speaks truth. Love is above all!
Consider this Biblical counsel:
Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.
Proverbs 20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.
Matthew 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.