So we are going to look at two verses in the book of Proverbs today. They basically say the same time twice, so I figure that means that this is important for us to remember and important for us to study today.
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. Proverbs 11:13
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. Proverbs 20:19
Both of theses verses start out the say way, “A gossip betrays a confidence” so naturally let’s go to the greek word to help us define what a gossip is.
gossip-“rakil“, refers to talebearer or slander. (I’ve actually never heard of the term “talebearer” before but Merriam Webster defines it as, “one that spreads gossip and rumors.)
I find it interesting that gossip is both a noun and a verb, you can be a gossip but you can also spread gossip.
The gossip in the form of a verb definition is , “a rumor or report of intimate nature”. So according to Merriam Webster it’s more than just spreading false information, it is spreading words to hurt another or discredit or damage their reputation…. aka slander
And in these verses from Proverbs it doesn’t read, ” a person who sometimes gossips, or a person who gossips without meaning to directly.
It reads, “a GOSSIP”
The person who is responsible for spreading lies or personal and secret information about someone to others.
I actually did my masters thesis on this type of verbal aggression. Women (as you might expect) are more prone to engaging in this type of aggression compared to physical aggression. (Hello, have you seem the movie, Mean Girls?!) There is a commonly held belief that most of our mean girl tendencies happen in high school or are more prevalent in teens and younger adults.
It’s as though we think once we reach a certain point in life, or a certain age we no longer are a gossip. Unfortunately this is not the case. In many Christian communities, churches and small groups, this gossip is doing more harm than you might think.
Yes, both the gossip person and the gossip content.
I think this is why we are warned more than once not to trust a gossip and to be careful how much we reveal to people.
The confidence referred to in Proverbs 20:19 is that of, “secrets” from the greek word, sod.
We see that a gossip tells our secrets to others, which looks different for everyone. Sometimes the messages are harmful, and should not be shared, but we can also betray a confidence that a person has placed in us by sharing their secret even if it’s good news.
In small group settings there is alot of talk about confidentiality. Things that are spoken about in the group remain in the group, and you are not to share other people’s personal lives with others outside of the group.
But what about gossiping about a person inside the group?
I want to contrast the characteristics of a gossip with those of a gatekeeper, so we see the type of person we should be putting our confidence in.
A gatekeeper by definition is someone that guards a gate (haha!) but also “one that controls access to”.
So if we think of our mouth as a gate, we are all gatekeepers and therefore can control what comes out of our mouth right?
Partially, yes. We can learn to control our tongue and use our words wisely, but this control over the tongue can’t take place without the confidence of Jesus Christ inside of us.
There are lots of verses on controlling our tongue and the power of our words, but I’ll just highlight a few:
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. Proverbs 21:23
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:27-28
We see the importance of taming our tongue and controlling what comes out of our mouths.
The prudent seem to be the examples referred to in the passages.
To be prudent is, “the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason”.
It’s to think before we speak, and to use wisdom before sharing with others.
The exact opposite of what a gossip does, the prudent, “gate keeper” takes inventory of not only all the words they are saying, but how those words will affect others.
There is a quote I’ve seen few times that says, “It is better to be kind than to be right”.
So how can you be “kind” instead of “right” today?
What can you do to become more of a gatekeeper and less of a gossip?
If this is area you struggle with (being a gossip and using kind words) I want to encourage you to pray and ask God to help you control your tongue and help you examine your heart to determine where these feelings are coming from)
The first step is our awareness, once you are aware of gossiping and spreading rumors you can ask God for forgiveness and repent from being a gossip. I’m praying for you as God reveals these things in your heart, sweet friend! A gossip can turn into a gatekeeper with the help of the gospel!
gossip + gospel = gatekeeper