Hey, did you hear about so and so? Gossip! It can seem to start so innocently and then it becomes like a wildfire, spreading faster than you ever thought possible! What is it exactly and what does the Bible say about gossip and backbiting? Learn the answer to that question as well as the Hebrew term “lashon hara”!
That’s right! Gossip did not just start here in recent history! It’s been a problem a long time!
In fact, it goes back to the Torah (the five Books of Moses).
Lashon hara literally means “evil tongue” or “evil language”. It is something that may be true but yet there is absolutely nothing to be gained or anything constructive in repeating it.
For instance, if I see a friend’s husband out with another woman and I seek the counsel of my Rabbi or a Pastor about how to handle the situation, that would not be lashon hara.
However, if I run to a friend and repeat the information without any reason for doing so except to blab about it, that is lashon hara.
If it is not true and I am merely concocting a story (another form of gossip sadly) that is known as motzi shem ra, or literally giving someone a bad name.
It is much like what we know as slander or defamation.
So where does lashon hara occur in Torah?
Tza’arat is a skin disease, also known as leprosy.
So Miriam committed lashon hara against Moses and the Lord chastised Miriam and gave her leprosy.
That is how serious the Lord views lashon hara.
What Does the Bible Say About Gossip and Backbiting? – Let’s Dig in More!
So we have this one instance of lashon hara in the Bible but what does the Bible say about gossip overall? After all, some gossip is true, some is not. Some is repeated without it being for a constructive reason and some is repeated to harm someone or drive a wedge between people. We may call that backbiting.
Before we get to what the Bible says about gossip, let me just share what the opinion of the sages were.
The sages have taught that it is greater harm to hurt someone personally than financially because a person can always replace money but the shame that person incurs goes on and could follow him for his lifetime. They were of the opinion that to embarrass someone in public was akin to murder.
It would seem the Apostolic Writings would agree.
1 John 3:15 says:
So let’s go on to more of what the Bible says.
First, let me say that if someone comes to you in confidence to seek counsel or advice about an issue and you repeat that to another person without their consent, you need to examine your motives!
It is something you need to repent of because not only are you guilty of gossip but you are guilty of trying to further damage a relationship between people that may already be strained.
You should always seek to try to help and not do more harm, and helping may very well be just staying out of it!
If someone comes to you for godly counsel and you betray that trust, you are putting yourself on some dangerous footing and giving way to the enemy in your life!
So what does the Bible say about gossip and backbiting and the danger the tongue can cause?If someone comes to you for godly counsel and you betray that trust, you are putting yourself on some dangerous footing and giving way to the enemy in your life! Click To Tweet
Proverbs 16:28 CJB
"A deceitful person stirs up strife, and a slanderer can separate even close friends."
Proverbs 11:13 CJB
"A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence."
Proverbs 18:8 CJB
"A slanderer’s words are tasty morsels; they slide right down into the belly."
Psalm 34:13 NASB
"Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit."
Exodus 23:1 TLV
“Do not to spread a false report. Do not join hands with the wicked by becoming a malicious witness."
Proverbs 6:16-19 TLV
"Six things Adonai hates, yes, seven are abominations to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet that run to evil, a false witness who spouts lies, and one who stirs up strife among brothers."
Proverbs 17:9 CJB
"He who conceals an offense promotes love, but he who harps on it can separate even close friends."
Proverbs 26:20-22 CJB
"If there’s no wood, the fire goes out; if nobody gossips, contention stops. As coals are to embers and wood to fire is a quarrelsome person to kindling strife."
Proverbs 18:7 CJB
"A fool’s mouth is his ruin; his words are a trap for him."
Psalm 15:2-3 CJB
"Those who live a blameless life, who behave uprightly, who speak truth from their hearts and keep their tongues from slander; who never do harm to others or seek to discredit neighbors;"
Psalm 141:3 CJB
"Set a guard, Adonai, over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips."
Lord, set a watchman over my mouth so that I am convicted any time I open my mouth to speak about another when not done with proper motives.
Psalm 19:14 NASB
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer."
Let my words always be acceptable in your sight Lord. Keep my heart ever turned toward You so that I do not sin by thought or speech.
Psalm 31:18 NASB
"Let the lying lips be mute, which speak arrogantly against the righteous with pride and contempt."
Lord, help to place a guard over my lips to remain silent rather than speak words that do not lift up. Help me to refrain from tearing down. Speaking ill of someone does nothing to lift me up! Help my speech always be tempered with love!
Psalm 15:1-3 TLV
"A psalm of David. Adonai, who may dwell in Your tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one who walks with integrity, who does what is right, and speaks truth in his heart, who does not slander with his tongue, does not wrong his neighbor, and does not disgrace his friend..."
Lord, help me to always walk in integrity and keep my tongue from slander or gossip. Help me to always do what is right toward my neighbor, regardless of how I am treated!
Blessings or Curses
You have a choice to make every single day! You can choose to bless others with the words of your mouth, or curse them.
You can choose to breathe life into someone’s world with your words or you can choose to bring them more trouble.
Be a blessing to another! Choose to see the good in them! Assume people have the best intentions and don’t mean to do evil toward you, making you retaliate with your words.
In today’s political climate, there is so much anger and backbiting. Let’s aspire to be different than the world!
We ARE different than the world!
Do you have a favorite verse about gossip or the power of the tongue? Share them in the comments (I deliberately left many out so I could give you all a chance to share yours)!You have a choice to make every single day! You can choose to bless others with the words of your mouth, or curse them. Click To Tweet
CJB – Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
NASB – “Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation“
Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society. Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.