The old story is told of a person who once said, “I never tell anything about anyone unless it is good. And folks, this one is really good!” Gossip – the wickedness that begins with lies, and festers into such vile libel as to destroy the most innocent of souls to elevate higher the elite of sinful society! By inspiration, Peter condemned it when he wrote, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.” (1 Peter 4:15 emp. mjd)
Strong defines the word “busybody” as “a meddler” while Thayer adds this information to his definition: “busy about trifles and neglectful of important matters.” This would seem to fit the Lord’s description of the Pharisees (see Matthew 23:23: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.) Further, the ISBE (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) says of the word, “The word is found twice in Pauline literature.: 1 Timothy 5:13, “not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies,” and 2 Thessalonians 3:11, “work not at all, but are busybodies.” It is also found in 1 Peter 4:15 the KJV (the Revised Version (British and American) “meddler” “or as a busybody in other men's matters.” If these passages are coupled with such others as James 3:2-10; 4:11; Ephesians 4:29; 4:31; Titus 3:2, it becomes evident that such sins … were as common in the apostolic church as they are today. And it is this sin which is so repeatedly warned against by the apostles, as in direct conflict with the ethics of Christianity, and in violation of that spirit of brotherly love and mutual trust which Christ has enjoined on His followers, and which is the very marrow of the outward revelation of the Christian’s faith (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
Still, “finding fault” is too common, and gossiping about it is even worse! Some think that if the story is “true,” it isn’t gossiping to repeat it. That’s not true! First, does it benefit the subject of the statement to tell others, and not confront him/her with the matter? If not, then what kind of brotherly love is it to tell something to others instead of endeavoring to make peace with the subject of the matter? Second, have you checked the story for factualness? Rumors are lies and are perpetuated to cause harm. While some would declare the rumor as “mostly true,” how much of a lie needs to be connected to it to cause it to be deadly? Remember, most of the content of rat poison is healthy food! Want to cook up a bowl for a snack? Then why spread a rumor just for the sake of being involved in a conversation?
Gossip is entertaining! It usually starts, “Did you hear …?” Unless you can PROVE what you heard to be fact, why repeat it? If you don’t know, then don’t claim you do, as though you are an “expert” on the subject! Perhaps we’re too much like the Athenians. Luke records of them, “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” (Acts 17:21) But where did their gossiping and sharing of rumors get them? How were any the wiser in truth by avoiding the facts and accepting the gossip of the day?
And consider the inspired apostle John’s words from the isle of Patmos: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Revelation 21: 27) and again, “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Revelation 22:15) Do you still think gossiping is an “enjoyable manner of conversation?” Why?
The venom of gossip/rumor is deadly for many reasons. The victim of such speech, can be so deeply discouraged as to ponder, “What’s the use?” and in despair, surrender to the weak and beggarly elements of this sin-cursed earth. (Galatians 4: 8 -9) A soul is lost because someone would rather spread and/or listen to gossip than take time to talk to that soul and teach them Christ and Him crucified! Gossip makes everyone involved an accomplice to the crime inflicted on the subject of the gossip, regardless of how much of the statement may be true! (And remember, gossip is never intended to help a soul, but to destroy it!) So, every participant in gossip is guilty of sin, whether you “loaded the gun,” “shot the gun” or just “handled the gun.”
Therefore Ephesians 4:25 MUST be our rule of speech! Anything more is gossip and rumor!