Gossip Understood

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”(Exodus 20:16). The most blatant violation of the ninth commandment is any lie that harms someone else…When the Bible condemns gossip, it means something more than just casual talk about other people’s business. Gossip is talking about people in a way that damages their reputation with others. Reputations are important. The Bible says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Prov. 22:1). One problem with gossip is that it tries to steal this treasure. When this is done in speech, it is called slander; when it appears in print, it is called libel. Either way the victims of gossip never get to defend themselves. They never have a chance to explain their circumstances, clarify their motives, or correct the misconceptions people have about them. Instead they are charged, tried, and convicted in the court of private opinion. Most gossip contains a fair amount of misinformation. People who gossip trade in hearsay, rumor, innuendo, and other notoriously unreliable forms of communication…Gossip is such a common sin that we forget how ungodly it is.

– Philip Graham Ryken