Who else is stumped by the concept of ‘gossip’? Most of our conversations are about the activities of ourselves, our families, our friends or mutual acquaintances. So is all of that sin?
I’ve thought about this (I had some free time). I think gossip can be defined as:
*Lying. The ‘thou shalt not’. Rumours and hearsay (where you take the word of someone who took someone else’s word) and communicate it, with or without specifying that it could all be lies.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16 ESV)
*Glorifying in someone else’s bad circumstances. The Germans call this baby ‘schadenfreude’. Gossip isn’t just about truthfulness. It is often rooted in envy, which has its whole own commandment:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17 ESV)
*Hypocrisy. Discussing someone’s affairs under the pretence of something else (like ‘caring’). Jesus hated hypocrisy, and for good reason: we are not immune to our own hypocrisy. If left to it long enough, we begin to believe our saintly projections, oblivious to our inner gangrene. This is also known as ‘the broad path’. It takes a sharp turn down Shit Creek (yes, I used a bad word).
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1 ESV)
*Judgment. Judging what someone else said or did. Whether they ‘deserve’ to be judged is irrelevant:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:37-38 ESV)
When in doubt…it’s probably gossip. If it’s more complicated than that: Matthew 5, or 1 Corinthians 13. Use Christ and the Word as the exegesis for your thoughts and actions.