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Have you ever been in a position to know the facts about some situation, but not at liberty to divulge them, while there is a whirlwind of gossip going on around you that has few if any of the facts in it?

I have, many many times, and I almost burst sometimes wanting to set the record straight. I want to take out a front page ad in the newspaper, or make a Facebook post saying how wrong the gossip is and give people the facts. We see around us every day from politics to idle chatter in the work place, that the gossip mill seldom functions on the facts, and we see the harm that false or even true information causes if spread with the wrong motives. Sadly, sometimes the person passing along what they heard is unaware it's false or misleading. Occasionally, we are in a position to let the facts be known and throw some water onto the fire, but many times we can't!

Gossip is addressed in the Bible in several passages, sometimes called "idle talk" (Job 1:3), sometimes where we are commanded to "speak evil of no one" (Titus 3:2) and sometimes where it's just flat out called gossip (Rom 1:29, 2 Cor 12:20, and several Proverbs).

So what exactly is gossip, and/or who is a gossip? A gossip is a person who makes a habit of spreading rumors, not always but usually intimate or otherwise private rumors. They may not even have a slanderous motivation. Sometimes in fact, they are not even rumors but legitimate facts, but they enjoy telling about other people's situation(s) in a harmful or hurtful way. In fact, probably a whole lot more of what we hear on a daily basis is gossip than what we classify as gossip. We used to call the people who spread such conversations "busy-bodies".

Scripture is loaded with verse after verse about not speaking evil, about not being a talebearer, and how our speech ought to be and what to avoid (Col 4:6, Col 3:8-9, Psalm 75:5, Leviticus 19:16, Proverbs 26:20) and those just scratch the surface.

If you are like me, you want to avoid gossip and gossipers, but you often get in the middle of a conversation before you realize what it is you are in the middle of. We need to try to avoid gossip, and when it chases us down and forces us to listen, we need to try and correct falsehoods if we can, and for certain, it needs to go no further than us where we have control over that. If you have ever been the victim of malicious gossip, you know how bad it hurts and the damage it causes, especially if it's not even true.

Paul says, "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace" (Romans 14:19). "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts" (Colossians 3:15). "Be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11) Following this direction, we need to avoid gossip and those who feed on it. It is harmful and hateful in many instances, and has no place in the Kingdom of Christ. "He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it" (1 Peter 3:10,11).