Counsel: Gossip

Bob,

Here’s a quick definition of Gossip I took from the internet: http://www.onelook.com/:

Quick definitions (Gossip)

· noun: a report (often malicious) about the behavior of other people (Eg: “The divorce caused much gossip”)
· noun: a person given to gossiping and divulging personal information about others
· noun: light informal conversation for social occasions
· verb: talk socially without exchanging too much information
· verb: wag one’s tongue; speak about others and reveal secrets or intimacies

Gossip doesn’t have to be false, it just has to be irrelevant to the people involved. The fact that your sister-in-law talked about her relationship with anyone other than you and it caused damage to your reputation is, by definition, gossip—even if it is true, or partially so (which is probably the really damaging thing).

And truth spun to a particular person’s side is always damaging to the other side, because it is seldom the real truth. This why the Bible tells us to hear both sides of an issue before we make a judgment (Prov. 18:13, 17).

What would that someone think if I mentioned that the last time I visited you in Riverdale, you were sober? They would think that you weren’t normally sober. The truth can be told in a way that implies that a lie is true. In this case the fact is that I only visited you once, and that you are normally sober doesn’t enter in. But telling the truth, in this way, is actually telling a lie because it says a whole lot more (and a lot less) than was actually said.

So telling the Johnsons the truth caused something to become a fact in their minds that wouldn’t have been there if the actual, complete truth had been told. Again, it’s like the woman who wears far too little clothing and then complains that the men are paying undue attention to her. “I didn’t say anything to them, why are they coming on to me like this?” Well, a woman doesn’t have to be talking to be speaking.

There are lots of passages of Scripture that talk about gossip, but they assume we know what the word means. I can send you a list if you want.

I hope this helps,

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