What can be done when annoying bees buzz gossip into our ears, casting doubt about a friend or loved one’s character? How do you handle it? Do you accept the information as valid and true, or do you go directly to your friend for his or her side of the story? Have you let a good relationship go to waste, simply because you accepted a story that caused you to side with the gossip, or did you consider something may be wrong if you only heard from one party?
When we think about the times we have found ourselves in these situations, do we discover that we’ve taken sides with the gossip, without knowing all the facts; or have we given our loved ones the benefit of the doubt? Did we ever allow the person being gossiped about, to come to his or her defense? Did the person even know about it? Did the person give up? Why or why not? Was the person being gossiped about… you?
At one time or another, we’ve all found ourselves in a sticky situation when someone suddenly starts talking about someone else. In that moment, we have a choice to participate, or not participate. It can be uncomfortable to speak up about it, but the person who should really be feeling uncomfortable is the gossip herself. If we choose to participate, we will find ourselves stuck in a hive, wondering how to escape a sticky situation. Those who engage in gossip are often afraid to fly away from the queen bee, because they’re usually fearful of getting stung themselves! And they will… get stung… because if a gossip is sharing info with you, the gossip will share info about you. To think this is false, is to live in denial about the spirit of gossip and how it works.
A gossip’s tasty little bits of information may initially seem to be sweet as honey, but there’s something to be said about food that is sickeningly sweet. When a gossip shares her irresistible story, people willingly eat it up. This is because the gossip falsely makes you feel special; as if it’s an honor to have been chosen to be trusted with her private little story. But it’s kind of like having a chocolate chip… you can’t eat just one. Each tasty morsel gives you a desire for another, and a little bit isn’t enough to satisfy. Eventually the listener wants a whole cookie, something to fill the belly:
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Prov. 18:8 New International Version).
If the gossip is really experienced, she or he will work hard to turn you away from her enemies, from the very people God intended for you to have in your life… truthful, compassionate, loving people. Why would a gossip do this? Because the gossip has an agenda: It’s an agenda to get attention from you, no matter what the cost is to anyone else. If the gossip is successful at getting you to stop talking to your friends and loves ones, and you don’t even really know how it happened, you may want to consider the fact that this busy bee body is downright toxic.
By definition, toxic means poisonous! Who wants to be near poison? Wouldn’t we want to separate ourselves from it? Of course! The gossip knows this, so the gossip creates the division first, to distract you from the real problem… the gossip herself! However, instead of you being separated from the gossip, you are instead craftily separated from the friends and loved ones who are a positive influence in your life. A gossip separates friends out of spite, jealousy, low self-esteem, selfishness and self-centeredness.
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28).
The Bible condemns gossips; even grouping them into the same category as liars, slanderers, and God-haters! God is not referring to this group with favor. A gossip is always a liar too. Why? Because the juicier the story, the larger the gossip’s audience will be, and embellishment means that more attention will be bestowed upon the gossip.
“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. (Rom.8:29-31).
Try this experiment: Watch a gossip in action. Observe how people engage with her. They move in closer to her, and shut out those who are their targets. The gossip whispers for dramatic effect. People “oooh” and “ahhh” over her phrases. The news is always negative, and it is usually shocking. Bits of truth are thrown in to make the story seem true, and to make the gossip seem like a credible witness. The audience reacts by mimicking the gossip’s emotions. If she’s angry, they are “righteously” angry for her. If she’s having a pity party, her audience gladly pats her on the back and agrees that the person being gossiped about is truly thoughtless, unforgiving, and unChristianlike.
The gossip is the center of attention and the gossip wants to keep it that way. The focus will be on her and how much better she is than someone else, how she’s been mistreated by someone else, and how she is concerned about someone else. In essence, the gossip is an expert know-it-all about the person who is not even there to defend himself. A genuine Christian should use discretion when concerned about a loved one; and should seek to keep quiet about things that could hurt someone else or damage relationships among friends and loved ones:
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs” (Prov. 10:12).
Gossip is like having a judge rule over a court case without allowing the defendant to speak. It’s like a football game when the offense runs forward to make a touchdown, but the defending team isn’t even there to try and intercept the ball. If you challenge the gossip with questions to verify how she got her information, her feathers will get ruffled, and she will become offended. She will become uncomfortable, and only then will she make an effort to change the subject.
In the worst case scenario, the gossip has no empathy, yet displays fake empathy by manipulating her captive audience into believing that she is concerned about the person being discussed. She is now in control of the situation, by having played on people’s emotions. Meanwhile the person being gossiped about is living a normal, healthy productive life, and usually has no clue about how much damage the gossip is causing behind his back. Yet slowly, bit by bit, people drop out of his life, all because of the gossip’s made up stories! Rarely will a good and fair man or woman come forward and say, “I heard this about you… is it true?” But why shouldn’t we do this? Why would we accept a one-sided conversation as truth? The Bible itself tells us this is a very naive thing to do:
“The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps” (Prov. 14:15 New American Standard Bible).
Most people can’t imagine how someone would play with real human lives in such a manner. But the truth is, it does happen, and it’s more often than we’d like to think. It happens when a gossip is at her very worst; and becomes a completely self-absorbed, self-centered, narcissistic person: Everything will be about her… everything. Not all gossips are narcissists; but ALL narcissists are gossips! Beware the self-centered sting of narcissism!
If you’ve been caught up in the sin of gossip, the silver lining is that gossip is forgivable and escapable! Repent of participating in gossip, and ask God whether He wants you to apologize to those who have been hurt by your participation in it. God makes good out of all things, when we come to Him with a repentant heart. Though it may take a while, God can heal broken relationships, and He can repair broken hearts. One small act of repentance can bring about a lifetime of beautiful gifts. God is a God of restoration. He can even replace many years which were lost due to the sin of gossip, and heal all the hearts involved. Ask God to remove gossip from your life today!
” ‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed” (Joel 2:25-27 New International Version).
If you’re the one being gossiped about, remember that God is your protector. The Holy Spirit is at work, convicting the hearts of those who accuse you. You’re not alone. Jesus knows exactly how you feel. He chose not to defend himself, even though He was, and is, God’s beloved Son. He knew God had a better plan, and he trusted His Father. When we are unjustly slandered, by those who gossip about us, we can rejoice in the fact that we are taking part in the suffering of Jesus for his namesake. Not only do we take part in the suffering, but we will also take part in the great joy of God’s Kingdom! God will judge all of it, and make it right. Don’t waste your time with a queen bee, when you belong to the KING!
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:17-18).
Stay tuned for these upcoming June posts from the Series: Toxic People, Toxic Situations…
Is She a Gossip? … 10 Red Flags
10 Ways to Escape Gossip
The Self-Centered Sting of Narcissism
The Jezebel Spirit
Flying Monkeys… What are They?