Overcoming Sin through Christ: Gossiping and Whispering

Overcoming Sin through Christ

A Comprehensive List of Sins

(Alphabetically Arranged)

Richard Hollerman

The plan of this study is simple.  We will look at a large number of sins, one by one, alphabetically.  We will define the sin, describe it, and comment on it, along with noticing Scripture references on the particular entry.  Some illustrations will be offered along with the description.

Gossiping and Whispering

Have you ever known a gossip?  Have you ever heard gossip?  Have you ever been guilty of gossiping yourself? This is a sin of the mouth that is quite common in every age.  It’s an everyday sin that people enjoy! But it is deadly!

We refer to gossip as “rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature,” or “a person who habitually spreads gossip.”[1]  So common is this verbal pastime that people joke about it: “Let’s get together and do some gossiping!”  “Jane was gossiping on the job and told me some ‘juicy’ gossip!”

Biblically, “a gossip is one who repeats idle talk or rumors about others.  Gossip need not be, but often is, malicious.”[2]  One Old Testament Hebrew term means “talebearer.”  The other term is rendered whisperer, evil report, ill report, or slanderer.[3]  In no uncertain terms, God warns against this sin: “He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip” (Proverbs 20:19).  “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter” (11:13).  Tale bearing, slandering, gossiping, and whispering are all closely related.  “He who spreads slander is a fool” (10:18b).  Many crave the latest bit of gossip: “The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body” (18:8; cf. 26:22).  Gossip is often done in a whisper, in order to avoid being overheard.  Often whispering creates strife: “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down” (26:20). Gossip surely has far-reaching and disastrous effects.

Now let’s turn to the New Testament.  “The NT word is ‘whisperer,’ or ‘babbler.’  The gossip whispers poisonous reports in someone’s ear in private that he or she would not dare to say in front of the person talked about.”[4]  Paul refers to pagans who are “gossips,” which is a sin “worthy of death” (Romans 1:29, 32).  In another place, Paul mentions some of the sins found at Corinth which he fears they had not repented of and forsaken.  This would include slander and gossip, along with other related sins like strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, arrogance, and disturbances (2 Corinthians 12:20-21). 

The apostle also writes of certain young widows who “learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house, and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention” (1 Timothy 5:13).  Busybodies are often gossips and gossips are often busybodies.  We can picture these women traveling from house to house, stirring up trouble as they take their tales of others from person to person. 

There are three other places where the term “gossips” comes from diabolos, which means “slanderous, accusing falsely.”[5]  Women (perhaps wives of the elders?) are not to be “malicious gossips” (1 Timothy 3:11).  Older women are not to be “malicious gossips” (Titus 2:3).  In the difficult times of the last days, people will be “malicious gossips” and we should “avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:3, 5).  We can definitely say that gossiping often leads to this maliciousness.  Gossip can be a disastrous activity, one that breeds conflict and hatred—rather than love and mercy.  Gossip is a sin of the tongue.  We can see how James could say that “the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity” (3:6).

 



[1] The American Heritage College Dictionary.

[2] The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Richards, Expository  Dictionary.

[5] NASB Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible, lexicon.

 

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