“Every small bit of sinful gossip in daily life is an evil echo of what went wrong at the very beginning. In fact, gossip is the same ugly sin played out again and again. Gossip is believing the ancient lie that we can attempt to play God by destroying others with the power of our words. Gossip is not just breaking a rule; it is perversely living out Satan’s lies, which we would rather believe than the truth. And, therefore, we are attracted to the wrong stories.” As we return to our interaction with Matt Mitchell’s book, Resisting Gossip, these words summarize his answer to the question, “Why do we gossip?”
Part One of the book concludes with a chapter entitled, “A Gallery of Gossips.” Here the author defines the five different ways we gossip; that is, the types of gossiping people we may be or meet in daily life.
#1: The Spy – In Proverbs 11:13, the Hebrew word translated “gossip” means “‘a peddler (of secrets), a huckster/hawker, deceiver, or spy.’ The English Standard Version uses the phrase ‘whoever goes about slandering’….We might use the word ‘informer’….Spies know how to wheedle a story out of us.”
#2: The Grumbler – Another Hebrew word commonly translated “gossip” refers to a whisperer. The Hebrew dictionaries say that this “is one who is ‘murmuring about another person behind their back rather than openly complaining about their behavior.’”
#3: The Backstabber – “Backstabbing gossip overflows from a heart bent on revenge, retaliation and real malice. The backstabber actually desires the target of his gossip to experience pain. The backstabber usually begins by spreading lies, starting what we call a ‘smear campaign.’ Absalom was a backstabber.”
#4: The Chameleon – “A chameleon is a person who goes along with gossip to try to fit into the crowd….Fear, not anger, is the main motivation for a chameleon’s gossip. A chameleon is afraid of what her peers will think, say or do if she does not produce gossip on demand. She is usually afraid of being excluded.” The fear of man keeps her in this prison (Prov. 29:25).
#5: The Busybody – “The busybody is a person who is idle, not engaged in purposeful business and wants to be entertained. He gossips for titillation and for the purpose of living vicariously through the stories of others. A busybody enjoys meddling in other people’s business” (like the idle men described and rebuked in 2 Thess. 3:11).
Much fuller descriptions are given of these five kinds of gossips, heart diagnoses of what drives each, and biblical remedies. As we continue to work through Resisting Gossip, please consider reading and growing along with us.
[This article was originally posted May 27, 2017.]