Why does a gossip, gossip?

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself that question about people who blab everything they know?  Why do people who gossip go around telling everything? 

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I think it’s important for us to take a mental position that leans towards skepticism.  I don’t mean you fight and argue about everything—we’ve talked about that a lot here on this blog.  Instead, it’s a mindset that analyzes what happens around us and interrogates those “things” by asking who, what, when, where, why, and how.

And when we start analyzing why someone betrays our confidence and gossips, we begin to understand a little more not only about the behaviors of others, but also of ourselves.

We read in Proverbs 20:19 this piece of Holy Spirit-inspired, critical-thinking counsel.

 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.

Proverbs 20:19
New International Version

Why does a gossip betray a confidence?  Because it’s who they are.  The nature of a gossip is flawed.  There is a character flaw in them causing them to betray the private information of others. 

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The implication of this entire Proverb is dealing more with someone who blabs rather than someone who betrays a confidence with malice in their heart.  It’s an “accidental” sharing.  It’s talking too much.

While they are not trying to slander another person, their babbling is nonetheless damaging. 

In this short Proverb, it is not only the analysis of the problem of a gossip but also how to apply this truth to your life.  The solution?  Avoiding the person who blabs.

Keep everything in Scripture in balance with other Scripture.  The author is not saying to smash them with our words or cut them off from all emotional ties with us.  The Proverbs are often presented as a tension to be maintained.

The tension on one side is to not be cruel to them (since they are certainly not meaning to bring harm).  The tension on the other side is to avoid them because their loose lips will cause problems. 

The balance point in the middle is to remain kind to them while also recognizing we can’t say anything to these people that we don’t want spread across social media with our name attached.

It’s not easy. 

As a pastor, I had to learn this early on.  I learned the hard way that words I say privately can get repeated.  No, it wasn’t always with malicious intent, but what I say in one-on-one conversations gets spread around.  Thankfully, the Lord spared me from something that could have been very uncomfortable, but it’s still unnerving when your private conversations get repeated.

And let’s be honest: we’ve ALL done this.  We’ve been the gossip with no malice intended.  These Proverbs are not just for “others.”  It’s for us to look into our hearts and ask the Lord where we have been guilty of unwise behavior.

But here’s something you can repeat over and over (whether you attached my name to it or not): Jesus saves, restores, redeems, and forgives.

Therefore, whether we are struggling gossips or have been victimized by gossips, there are lessons we can learn.  There is truth to be applied.  And there is grace to be found.