At a church I once served, it amazed me how much energy one person could put into knowing the whereabouts and happenings of just about everyone around him, and yet be so oblivious on how he was perceived by others: nosy bordering on rude, a gossip, and a man that people soon learned not to say anything of import in his presence.
When we talk about Christian accountability and Christian community, there is a fine line between prayers of concern and gossip. I have heard many times in my ministry, “Let us pray for John Doe... he needs it, you know.” That’s not concern – that’s gossip. And sometimes, we just like to give too much information.
Sometimes, “Let’s pray for Jane Doe; she has surgery tomorrow” is sufficient. It is not necessary for us to say, “Let’s pray for Jane Doe; she is having a hysterectomy tomorrow.” God knows the specific need or needs – why do we have to tell everyone the details?
"A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends." - Proverbs 16:28
"A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much." - Proverbs 20:19
"Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down." - Proverbs 26:20
"In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers
but temperate and trustworthy in everything." - 1 Timothy 3:11
And what does this mean? Gossip’s main purpose is to spread misery. A sister denomination says it this way: "Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty ... of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them.”
How about us? Are we modeling God's standard of truthfulness and honesty? Are we known as someone who confronts gossip? Or do we pass it on with a few added details of our own?
Just as we are to hold others accountable, we are to be held accountable to others. Do no harm. Let us be quick to love, and let us make haste to be kind.