Talking negatively about others, or gossiping, is unfortunately very common in our society today. However, as Christians, we are called to a higher standard. The Bible has a lot to say about how we speak about and treat others.
In this comprehensive blog post, we will dive deep into the biblical principles regarding gossip and speaking ill of others. We will look at specific verses that forbid this behavior and teach us how to have integrity in our speech. Though it may be a common temptation, God makes it clear that gossip is a sin and has no place in the life of a believer.
- Gossip is expressly forbidden in Scripture
- God hears every word we speak
- Our words have the power to destroy or edify
- We reap what we sow through our speech
- Love should be the motivation behind our words
What Does the Bible Say About Gossip?
The Bible has many verses that directly address gossip, backbiting, and speaking negatively about others. Here are some of the clearest teachings:
Leviticus 19:16 – “You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.” (NKJV)
This verse forbids spreading false rumors that defame others. The Israelites were commanded not to slander or stand against the life of their neighbors.
Psalm 101:5 – “Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.” (NKJV)
This psalm of David condemns those who slander others in secret. This shows that gossip is evil, even if done in private.
Proverbs 11:13 – “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” (NKJV)
Here, a gossip is called a “talebearer.” This verse instructs believers to keep matters private rather than recklessly spreading rumors.
Proverbs 16:28 – “A perverse person sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.” (NKJV)
This verse warns that gossiping “separates close friends.” Spreading negative words breeds division and disunity among God’s people.
Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body.” (NKJV)
Gossip may seem fun and light like “tasty trifles,” but it actually corrupts the person spreading the rumors.
Proverbs 26:20 – “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” (NKJV)
Removing gossip from a community leads to peace and unity. Gossip is the fuel that keeps conflict burning.
There are many more verses, but these should give a clear picture. Gossip is expressly forbidden – it destroys relationships, breeds division, and corrupts the gossiper. As Christians, we must refrain from participating in this destructive sin.
God Hears Every Word We Speak
Sometimes it’s easy to think our gossip is private. After all, we’re just whispering it to one other person, right? But the Bible tells us God hears every word we utter. Our gossip is not hidden from the Lord.
Psalm 139:4 – “For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” (NKJV)
This verse is sobering for the gossip. God knows our words completely, even before they leave our lips. We cannot hide our gossip from Him.
Luke 12:3 – “Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (NKJV)
Jesus himself warns that even gossip done in secret will be revealed publicly for all to hear. There are no private words with God.
Matthew 12:36 – “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (NKJV)
Here, Jesus teaches that “every idle word” will be judged. That includes every piece of gossip or backbiting. Even careless words have consequences.
The clear teaching is that God hears all we say. Though we try to disguise gossip as private conversations, the Lord hears it all. We cannot hide it from Him, and it will be revealed and judged. This should cause us all to think very carefully about each word we share.
Our Words Have Power to Destroy or Build Up
The Bible warns us that our words have power. They can tear down or build up, curse or bless. We should consider carefully how our words affect others.
Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NKJV)
This verse compares our words to fruit, reminding us that both death and life can come from our speech. We eat the fruit – or consequences – of our words.
Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (NKJV)
Rather than corrupting speech that defames others, we should focus on words that build them up. Our aim should be to impart grace to those who hear us.
James 3:5-6 – “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” (NKJV)
Here James compares the tongue to a raging fire, highlighting the destructive force even of small words. The tongue – if not bridled – can defile the entire body.
These verses remind us to wield the power of words responsibly. Loose lips that spread gossip are incredibly destructive. As Christians, we must consider how we can build others up with our speech.
We Reap What We Sow Through Our Words
There is a principle in Scripture that we reap what we sow. The seeds of gossip we spread will come back upon us. If we plant blessings, we reap blessings. If we plant curses, we reap curses. Our words boomerang back to us.
Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” (NKJV)
Here, gossip is depicted as spreading wounds. But the gossip him/herself is wounded even more deeply, harming their own spirit.
Galatians 6:7-8 – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (NKJV)
In the context of the verse “flesh” refers to sinful desires. Gossip comes from sinful desires, so the gossiper reaps corruption. But blessing others yields eternal rewards from God.
Matthew 7:1-2 – “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (NKJV)
Jesus reminds us here that the judgment we dish out will boomerang back to us. So criticizing and speaking ill of others will invite harsh judgment upon ourselves.
The pattern is consistent. Blessings return as blessings. Hateful words return as discipline and judgment. We set in motion spiritual laws with our speech, so we must speak words of life.
Love Should Motivate Our Words
The key motivation behind our words should be love. This includes loving both God and our neighbor. When our speech flows from a heart of love, gossip will have no place.
Matthew 22:37-39 – “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (NKJV)
Loving God and others sums up the law. But gossip fails to model such love. We should ask if each word reflects a heart of love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (NKJV)
This beautiful passage describes the actions of love. Gossip is the opposite – it is unkind, rejoices in evil, believes the worst, etc. We must check our words against this model.
1 Peter 4:8 – “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” (NKJV)
Peter encourages fervent love for others, reminding us that love covers sins. It does not dredge them up and broadcast them. Love protects and restores.
measuring our speech by the standard of love. Loving God and others leaves no room for gossip or slander. Instead, it compels us to use words to restore and build up.
In summary, the Bible contains a clear and consistent message. Gossip goes against God’s standards and has no place in the life of a believer. Though it may seem trivial, Scripture warns us that each idle word has consequences. Our speech wields great power – power to bless or to curse. The seeds we plant through gossip boomerang back to reap discipline. Most importantly, we are called to let love shape our words. Seeking to edify others curtails all gossip.
By God’s grace, may we all bridle our tongues. May love and wisdom govern our speech. And may the words of our mouths bring restoration, hope, and life.