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Proverbs 18:6–8 (NRSV)

A fool’s lips bring strife, and a fool’s mouth invites a flogging.
The mouths of fools are their ruin, and their lips a snare to themselves.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of
the body.
Proverbs 16:28 (NRSV)
A perverse person spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Proverbs 11:13 (NRSV)
A gossip goes about telling secrets, but one who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a
Proverbs 20:19 (NRSV)
A gossip reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a babbler.
Sirach 19:12 (NRSV)
Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh, so is gossip inside a fool.
Sirach 28:13 (NRSV)
Curse the gossips and the double-tongued, for they destroy the peace of many.
Romans 1:28–32 (NRSV)
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind
and to things that should not be done.
They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy,
murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips,
slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward
foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not
only do them but even applaud others who practice them.
1 Timothy 5:13–15 (NRSV)
Besides that, they learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house; and they are not
merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say.
So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so
as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us.
For some have already turned away to follow Satan.
Leviticus 19:16 (NRSV)
You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the
blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
Psalm 50:19–21 (NRSV)
“You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your kin; you slander your own mother’s child.
These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one just like
yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.
Ezekiel 22:8–9 (NRSV)
You have despised my holy things, and profaned my sabbaths.
In you are those who slander to shed blood, those in you who eat upon the mountains,
who commit lewdness in your midst.
Psalm 141:3 (NRSV)
Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Gossip: The 8th Deadly Sin Proverbs 18:8

Charles Kimball

Introduction: In this sermon on gossip, Charles Kimball teaches about the heart of gossip. By
getting to the root of gossip, we can learn the effects it has on others as well as how to overcome
falling into this sin. Filled with scripture references, this sermon outline will provide you with study
tools as well as sermon illustrations on gossip and controlling one’s tongue. Read on to prepare to
preach about gossip. 

Who am I? I have no respect for justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am
cruel and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted, the more I am believed. I
flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against
me because I have no name and no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the
more elusive I become. I’m nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same. I
topple governments and ruin marriages. I destroy careers and cause heartache and sleepless
nights. I wreck churches and separate Christians. I spawn suspicion and generate grief, make
innocent people cry on their pillows. Even my name hisses. I am gossip.

1,500 years ago Pope Gregory the Great classified the sins that cause humanity to stumble (the
6th century). He looked at every sin mentioned in the Bible and boiled them down to 7 categories
of sin. His list of 7 sins is known as The 7 Deadly Sins.

The 7 deadly sins are pride, anger, indifference, envy, greed, lust, and gluttony. The 7 deadly sins
include nearly every kind of human sin imaginable. But there is a deadly sin that failed to be
included in the list of the 7 deadly sins. The 8th deadly sin is gossip.

All the sins of the tongue are deadly. Profanity, insults, lying negativism, complaints, and criticism
are all harmful. Gossip is a particularly deadly sin. Gossip has destroyed more people, tarnished
more reputations, broken more friendships, and split more churches than any sin I’m aware of.
Gossip is quickly told, quickly heard, and quickly spread. Worst of all, gossip is quickly believed.
People will confess to theft, adultery, even murder. But no one confesses to gossip.

The book of Proverbs warns us of the deadly allure of gossip as well as its deadly effects over and
over again. Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a
man’s inmost parts.” Whether we admit it or not, we have a fascination with gossip. That’s why talk
shows and grocery store tabloids are so popular. Proverbs says gossip is like a tasty morsel that
we like to savor. Gossip is like a hot fudge sundae made with Blue Bell ice-cream. Gossip is like
peach cobbler with real whipped cream. Gossip is like steak and lobster. Gossip is like an all you
can eat buffet with a desert bar. We can’t get enough of it.

Not only does Proverbs warn us that we have a perverse attraction with gossip. Proverbs also
warns us of the corrupting effect of gossip. When we listen to gossip, it goes to our “inmost parts.”
Gossip sinks its teeth into our hearts, souls, and minds and corrupts us like a fast spreading

We know what gossip is when we hear gossip or when we speak gossip. But we don’t often take
time to define words like gossip.

We want to see what God’s Word says about gossip. Let’s take a moment to consider the
meaning of gossip and its sister words as the Bible uses them. It helps us to know the meaning of
the words as they are used by Jesus and His apostles in the Greek New Testament. Simply put,
“gossip” is talking about people behind their backs.

The New Testament Greek word for “gossip” (psithuristes, Romans 1:29) is literally “a
whisperer” — a person who whispers behind your back with the intention of hurting you.

The Greek scholar Godet describes a gossiper as someone who pours out his poison by
whispering in our ears. With the telephone, we don’t even have to whisper behind people’s backs.
We just badmouth them over the phone without their knowing. With the advent of E-mail, gossip
spews forth through the Internet onto the computers in our homes and work places.

The Bible links gossip and slander together as sister sins (Romans 1:29-30).

The New Testament word “slander” (katalalos) means “to speak evil of someone.” When we
gossip, we speak evil about people; we badmouth them.

The King James Version describes people who gossip and slander people as “backbiters”
(Romans 1:30).

When we badmouth someone with gossip, we bite them behind their backs, whether the gossip is
true or not. All too often we can be like Dennis the Menace who whispered in his neighbor’s ear,
“Now listen good. I can only tell you this once ’cause my Dad told me not to repeat it.”
I. The Origin of Gossip

Gossip is like a tasty morsel that we like to hear. The question is: Where does gossip originate? In
a number of Scripture passages, the Lord informs us about the origins of gossip so that we will
avoid it.

Gossip is fueled by hell’s flames

Gossip is one of Satan’s fiery arrows that he shoots at us and entices us to shoot at others. The
Lord doesn’t mince words in James 3:6 when he tells us about the origin of the sins of the tongue:
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person,
sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

The flames of hell ignite gossip. Satan is behind all gossip, either directly or indirectly. When we
listen to gossip, we give the devil a foothold in our lives. When we speak gossip, we’re speaking
as Satan wants us to speak. As the old saying goes, “A gossiper is the devil’s postman.”

Gossip originates from the evil in our hearts

In Luke 6:45 Jesus tells us, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his
heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the
overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Jesus tells us that our words reveal what is in our hearts.
Gossip comes from a heart full of evil. Insults come from a heart full of evil. Criticism comes from a
heart full of evil. When we allow our sinful natures to control our hearts, evil fills our souls, and evil
spews out of mouths.

Gossip can be the result of hatred

In Psalms 109:3 the Old Testament King David said of his enemies, “With words of hatred they
surround me; they attack me without cause.” When we allow hurt, anger, bitterness, and rage to
live in our hearts, we entertain thoughts of hatred, retaliation, and revenge (Ephesians 4:31).

One way that we vent our anger, bitterness, and rage is through gossip. We wound people behind
their backs by badmouthing them. We retaliate by shooting people in the back with verbal bullets.
Unless we find comfort for our hurt and resolution for our anger, we often vent our hurt and anger
with our tongues.

Gossip is a product of idleness

1 Timothy 5:13 tells us how idleness can lead to gossip: “Besides, they get into the habit of being
idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips
and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”

People with too much time on their hands often become gossips and busybodies. As the saying
goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

Sometime ago the LA Times carried a horrific story about a college student who visited a
prostitute. As his lips approached hers, she moved a razor, hidden in her mouth, between her front
teeth. With two quick swipes, she cut off his lips. Gossip is a razor blade in our mouths.
II. The Trouble with Gossip

Gossip is always trouble. Gossip obscures the truth. Gossip drives us from God. Gossip ruins
reputations. Gossip destroys relationships. Gossip divides churches. The trouble with gossip is …

Gossip is incredibly destructive

James 3:6-8 says, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It
corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Gossip is a wild fire gone out of control. We try to put it out. We try to control it. But the gossiper
keeps pouring gas on the fire. Like a forest fire that is beyond control, gossip takes on a life of its
own. The story grows and changes the more the gossip is spread. The story even grows within the
mind of the gossiper.

Not only is gossip a wild fire. Gossip is “full of deadly poison.” I got food poisoning last year. The
poison of bad barbeque got into my stomach. My stomach was so sick that I’d make you sick to
describe it. I had 24 hours of misery and was washed out for days. Gossip is a deadly poison. It’ll
make you so miserable that you will wish that you were dead.

Gossip is a characteristic of unbelievers

Romans 1:29-30 describes the lives of unbelievers who have shunned God: “They have become
filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife,
deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they
invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents.” Gossip and slander belong to unbelievers
who have rejected God. When we gossip, we talk like people who have rejected Christ.

Gossip spreads falsehood

Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his
neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” When we gossip, facts are distorted. Lies are
spoken as truth. Half-truths are heralded as gospel. Gossip may have an ounce of truth to it. But
gossip is usually combined with a ton of lies. People often have the attitude, “Don’t bother me with
the facts. My mind is already made up.”

A couple of years ago, someone ran a red light and totaled my car. I replaced my Toyota MR2 with
a Toyota Camry. When I drove the new car to get a haircut, the receptionist misread the emblem
on the car. She thought I had bought a Lexus. She said, “I love your new Lexus.” I said, “What
Lexus? That’s only a Toyota. I’ve never even been in a Lexus.” That’s how gossip works. Half-
truths and misunderstandings are turned into unbelievable stories, like your pastor buying a new

Gossip separates friends

Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
In a few seconds gossip can ruin a friendship that took years to build. Not only does gossip ruin
friendships. Gossip can do great harm to a church.
People leave churches when they believe gossip. People leave churches when they have been
wounded by gossip. Churches have split over gossip started by a single person. Proverbs 6:19
tells us that of the 7 sins God hates, the sin god hates the most is stirring up dissension among
His people.

A grandmother was saying bedtime prayers with her two grandchildren. She said, “Tonight, we’re
going to talk about sin. Do you know what sin means?” Seven-year-old Keith said, “It’s when you
do something bad.” Four-year-old Aaron’s eyes widened, “I know a big sin Keith did today.” That’s
how gossip works. We see the speck in our brother’s eye but ignore the log in our own.

III. The Antidote for Gossip

We know that gossip originates with Satan. We know that gossip is a product of our sinful nature.
We know how incredibly destructive gossip is. Now we need to consider God’s antidote for gossip.

Overlook an offense

Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the
matter separates close friends.” Overlooking an offense is an act of love and friendship. It is also a
sign of Christian maturity. Christians can be too thin skinned. We can wear our feelings on our
shoulders. We need to develop rhinoceros thick skin.

Churches are a family. Sometimes family members offend family members. Don’t be surprised
when it happens. We’re too quick to get offended. We’re too quick to tell others about how another
church member offended us. It’s wrong! God’s says to overlook the offense. If you must talk about
the offense, talk to the person who offended you, and that person alone.

Don’t listen to gossipers

Proverbs 20:19 tells us, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” Did
you hear that verse? Don’t listen to gossipers and their gossip. God’s word says, avoid the
gossiper. When someone begins to gossip to you, tell them plainly, “I don’t want to hear any
gossip. We don’t want gossip hurting our church.” Don’t worry about offending them by telling
them you don’t want to hear any gossip. Gossipers need to be put in their place.

Confront gossipers
If someone gossips about you, Jesus tells us how to confront them in Matthew 18:15-17.

First, speak to the person one-on-one. If that doesn’t work, bring a couple of spiritually mature
Christian friends with you to confront them. We must confront people with the right facts and the
right spirit. Ephesians 4:15 tells us, “Speak the truth in love.”

Watch your tongue carefully

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is
helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Watch
your tongue. If your words tear people down rather than building them up, keep quiet. As my
mother used to tell me, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

A man won the million-dollar lottery. He flew with his wife to New York City for a weekend get
away. They had such an argument over how to spend the money that she threatened to divorce
him. In a fit of anger, he went to the top of the Empire State Building. She ran up after him,
thinking he might do something crazy. Once she got to the top she said, “Honey, I love you. We
can work it out.” But by the time she reached him, he had already torn the check into pieces and
thrown the pieces to the ground. They got to the ground as quick as possible to gather up the
pieces of the check. But it was too late. The wind had gotten a hold of the pieces. They couldn’t
piece the check back together again, no matter how hard they tried. That’s how it is with gossip.
Once gossip gets out, it gets out of control. Once it gets into the wind of people’s ears, there’s no
way to put things back together again.

Jesus warns us about sins of the tongue in Matthew 12:36: “I tell you that men will have to give
account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” We all need to pray

Psalms 141:3: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Can you pray for Jan? I heard she’s having some issues in her marriage. I think they
are on the brink of divorce. In my sixteen years in ministry, I’ve had many women come
to me and start off a conversation just like this one. Yet a conversation like this is
nothing more than gossip, thinly veiled as a prayer request used as a way to share
information about another member of church.
If I’m honest, it’s easier speaking about someone else’s life rather than my own. I even
get a little joy out of hearing someone else’s problems. For a moment, it seems like my
life is better than someone else’s. I can temporarily indulge in the spiritual high of
knocking someone else off her pedestal in a pathetic attempt to keep me on my
Perhaps, you, like me, have experienced the spiritual high of hearing about someone
else’s problems. Have you thrived even a little bit on the idea that someone who on the
exterior is thinner, prettier, or better than you is crumbling on the interior?
Our words have power. God used words when He spoke the world into being. Jesus
used them to calm storms, heal the sick and rebuke the Pharisees. They can have a
positive or negative effect on people, depending on which we choose to use. Let's take
some time to look at what the Bible says about gossip, how to identify gossip, and how
to stop it.

Is Gossip a Sin? What Does the Bible Say?

"Gossip" is a Hebrew translated word that means betrayal of confidence or revealing

secrets. Scripture refers to this as slander or speaking evil of someone. This type of
speech is forbidden and gossip is therefore sin. Here are some Bible verses that speak
about the sin of gossip :
Leviticus 19:16 (NRSV)
You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the
blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
Psalm 50:19–21 (NRSV)
“You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your kin; you slander your own mother’s child.
These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one just like
yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.
Ezekiel 22:8–9 (NRSV)
You have despised my holy things, and profaned my sabbaths.
In you are those who slander to shed blood, those in you who eat upon the mountains,
who commit lewdness in your midst.

Since gossip can be a hard concept to identify, ask yourself the following questions before
you spout off something you heard:

1. Would the person be offended if they heard you said it? Gossip rears its ugly
head when we talk about our neighbor, especially if she isn’t there to defend herself. If
the person you were speaking about walked into the room, would the person be
embarrassed at what you were saying? Would you?
2. Is it factual, or just a rumor? Rumors you hear about others are just that, rumors.
Not only can spreading false information ruin their reputation, but also yours.
3. Could the person you speak of trust you with additional information after you
spread this information? You could destroy the trust between you and the other
person if she finds out you aired her dirty laundry.
4. Would you be offended if someone said it about you? A good rule of thumb
when it comes to what we say is to ask yourself if you would want it said about you. If
you wouldn’t then chances are that person doesn’t want it said either. We are
commanded in Scripture to love our neighbors as ourselves. That includes all of our
brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you find yourself in a situation where someone is gossiping to you, here’s what
you can do to stop it:

1. Shut down the gossip.

Politely let the other person know the information you are telling them is none of your
business. It may sound harsh, but think of the way you would feel if someone was
talking about you. Whether you are actually speaking the gossip or listening to it, it is
still wrong. Standing up for someone who is being hurt by someone’s words
demonstrates you are a good friend and have integrity.

2. Nip gossip in the bud.

If telling them the information is none of their business doesn’t work, then you need to
be more direct. If they won’t stop, ask them if this is something they would say to them
if they were standing there next to them. If the answer is no, it shouldn’t be
said. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your
mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it
may benefit those who listen.”

3. Encourage the gossiper to pray.

After the other person has gossiped, encourage them to talk to God about the situation
rather than to you. After all, what’s a better prayer than the one uttered by someone
who heard the information in the first place? 

4. Direct them to the person about whom they are speaking.

Matthew 18:15-16, says, “If your brother or sistersins, go and point out their fault, just
between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will
not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the
testimony of two or three witnesses.” As Christians, we are commanded to go to a
person directly who has hurt us. Direct them to the person to whom they are speaking.
If the meeting will end in conflict, volunteer to be a mediator to help them air their
grievances in a healthy manner.

Gossip is prevalent in the Church. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a part of it.
Nipping gossip in the bud will help not only improve your reputation as a Christian, but
also contribute to the health of the church as a whole.