I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog Gossip: No Need to Pass it On

I was raised not to spread “gossip.” It is so easy to spread the latest tidbit of someone we know. There is almost a wicked deliciousness of passing the rumors of the moral, the failures, or other not-so-good circumstances of someone else.

Of course, when we realize gossip, and rumors—true or not—have been shared about our own circumstances, we feel embarrassed, angry, and betrayed. Yet our own conversations don’t seem that harmful. We lower our voices to catch the attention of our groups, feeling good because we are the focus. “Have you heard about….?” Then proceed to share what we know or think we know, usually without checking our sources to confirm the truth about what we’re passing on. Of course, that tidbit will continue to be passed on, and, if not true, can cause someone hurt, loss of friendships, or worse.

Prayer groups can end up being gossip sessions. In the name of seeking prayer, we may lay out the whole scenario. I’ve known friends who’ve been very hurt when that person shared something confidential with a good friend only to have that individual share it with her prayer group—without permission. In a flash, the whole church knew of the situation. Never again would my friend trust that other person and a friendship would never quite be the same.

Recently acquaintances were starting to ask questions about a person who seemed to have dropped out of our lives. At a small gathering geared for fun and fellowship, someone asked the hostess, who might know if anyone did, about this individual. I could tell from the tone, the women had serious concerns. The room went dead silent, telling me the questioner wasn’t the only one concerned.

The hostess cleared her throat. She could have laid out what she knew. Instead, she spoke quietly “Make it a matter of prayer.” That was all we needed to know. We could pray. No need to spread gossip. Why do any of us need to lay it all out? After all, God knows the situation and we can pray and leave the situation in His hands. Why can’t we all handle those situations so diplomatically?

I think I’ll follow this pattern. Instead of passing on all the details, I will simply pray. If someone craves more details, I’ll simply direct them to pray as well. How much better our lives and our relationships would be if we learned to check the information we hear and not pass on more than necessary and keep our mouths zipped as we bow instead to lift up the person and/or situation to the One who already knows and can do something about it.

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. —Proverbs 16:28 NIV

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. —Proverbs 11:13 NIV

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. —Ephesians 4:29

If I want to stop gossip, it has to start with how I handle sensitive information. Time I zip the lip and bow my head instead. That is true caring.

© 2022 Carolyn R Scheidies

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