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As we think of sins of the tongue, let’s begin with the one most people think of first: gossip. Gossip is the spreading of unfavorable information about someone else, even if that information is true. However, gossip is often based on rumor, which makes the sin even worse.

Indulging in gossip seems to feed our sinful ego, especially when the information we’re passing along is negative. It makes us feel self-righteous by comparison.

And then there are those times when we disguise our gossip as, “I want to share this with you for your prayers.” If we know something negative about someone, we should pray about it. But we should not spread around the bad news.

Ephesians 4:29 not only tells us what kinds of speech to put off, it also tells us what to put on. It is only such speech that builds up and gives grace to those who hear it. Therefore, when we are tempted to gossip, we should ask ourselves, Will what I’m about to say tend to tear down or build up the person I’m about to talk about?

~Jerry Bridges in Respectable Sins

Photo: OBMonkey

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For me, gossip was a serious struggle. Oh, I knew God spoke specifically to women who gossip (Titus 2:3—women are not to be slanderers), but I did it anyway. I tried everything to break myself of this habit. I taped little notes on the phone like: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it helpful? I prayed about gossiping each day, and still I did it. I was so sick of failing.

I finally reached the point where I asked God to do radical surgery. Real change only began when I started to confess gossip as a sin—each time I did it. I’ve had some lapses since then, but calling gossip sin and confessing it was a turning point. With God’s help, gossip no longer has such a hold on me. Praise be to Him!

~Elizabeth George in “Gossip

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It’s so important that you and I not gossip or listen to gossip about others. You see, love never protects sin, but it’s eager to protect the sinner. Now, that’s contrary to what’s natural for us because we do have this kind of perverse pleasure in exposing someone else’s faults and failures. I wonder if that’s because we make ourselves look better.

I know I can think back to times when I’ve so sinned against the Lord and against another person. Their name will come up in a conversation, someone will say something positive about that person, but I know something about that person that they don’t know. Why do I have to say it? Why can’t I bear that offense? Maybe the offense isn’t against me, but there’s something I know. It’s all pride, which is really the opposite of the kind of love we’ve been talking about.

Scripture says hatred stirs up strife, but love covers a multitude of sins. We can measure our love for a person by how quick we are to cover his faults.

Now, to bear all things doesn’t mean that we bear lies or wickedness or false teaching or other things that are contrary to God’s laws…

When we love someone, when we truly love them, we put things in the best possible light. We make allowances wherever possible. Love doesn’t justify sin; it doesn’t compromise with things that aren’t true…It’s willing to correct. In fact, it must correct. It’s willing to exhort and rebuke and discipline. But love does not expose or broadcast failures and wrongs. It covers, and it protects. 

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Loving Enough to Provide a Shield

Photo: OBMonkey