What Exactly is Gossip?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by C. M. Sheffield, Sep 21, 2010.

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  1. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    This isn't a question that I'm entirely ignorant of an answer to, but through the years I've struggled to give a concrete, concise and biblical definition to it. And how (as pastors) do we articulate the difference between harmless talk and gossip so as to leave our hearers without excuse.

    Gossip is so insidious because it can be so easily disguised (e.g. as passing along information, expressing "concern," making a simple "inquiry," &c.). This makes identifying gossip sometimes like nailing Jello to the wall.

    What are some the things some of you do to both avoid yourselves and stop the mouths of those employed in it?

    P.S. I put it in the "Church Order Forum" because I see this as a matter of church discipline.
  2. JennyG

    JennyG Puritan Board Graduate

  3. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    Richard Baxter does a great job discussing this sin. There is a man named Michael Phillips on SermonAudio.com that goes through Baxer's talks on backbiting. The defiantly made me come under conviction.
  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    My wife likes to define gossip as confessing other people's sins. Christians ought to prefer to confess their own sins.

    That's not as thorough as the other responses, but it covers a lot of ground and I find it's an easy-to-use idea while in the midst of conversation. Ask yourself, "Whose sins am I eager to confess right now? Mine or someone else's?"
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
  5. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Speaking falsehood of one's neighbor is certainly gossip but Paul mentions "idle chatter." In that way, I think of those who jab their jaw about every triviality under the sun. They may be speaking of things that are true, but are they helpful and edifying? Many times they are not.

    And there is another aspect to this discussion that I left out of the OP. Pastors are especially vulnerable to the sin of gossip by virtue of their office. All maner of information about everyone in the church passes through his ears (and then usually his wife's). As pastors we must be watchful over lips.
  6. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    this is overly simple, but we tell our children that everything that they say must pass this test.
    1) is it true?
    2) is it helpful?
    3) does it need to be said?

    Applying that test eliminates 90+% of gossip in my opinion.
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