This is a true story. A few years back, in the midst of some unpleasant circumstances in my life, I confided in a so-called "friend," only to realize that everything I had spoken to her was shared with certain authority figures in my life. My heart was breaking and I was in a deep spiritual depression in my life. My emotions were out of control and I lashed out in a bitter way. Was I right in saying the things I did? Absolutely not! However, instead of getting us both together and finding out what was really said, I was kicked under the bus and left to fend for myself. Yes, her words were taken as gospel. I have since forgiven her and, though our relationship will never be one of trust, I can say that I get along with her quite well now.
I have told this story because I have been on the end of bitter backbiting and gossip, and, unfortunately, I have been the one to dish it out. In truth, we all have, whether we like to admit it or not.
The dictionary defines backbiting as to attack the character or reputation of a person who is not present; to speak unfavorably or slanderously of a person who is not present. Gossip is defined to talk idly, especially about the affairs of others; go about tattling.
What does the Word of God, the ultimate authority have to say about it? I found several scripture verses relating to backbiting and gossip. Here are a few:
*Proverbs 25:23 "The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue."
*2 Corinthians 12:20 "For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envying, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults."
*Romans 1:28-30 "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents."
*Psalm 15:1-3 "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in they holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor."
Backbiting has a negative inference. In Romans, the author even uses it to describe the state of a person who has been given over to a reprobate mind. Reprobate is defined as a depraved, unprincipled, or wicked person; a person rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation. Wow! That's pretty harsh! Think of this, though. We can hurt someone physically and the bruises go away. However, when we spread gossip, the damage is there forever. You can't remove a thought from someone's mind. It is hard to undo the effect our words have on others.
Unfortunately, I have seen Christians who spread gossip and backbite while pretending to only want prayer for the injured party. In situations like this, it needs to be taken to their spiritual authority and stay there. If you truly care for someone, you will love them and pray for them, regardless of their mistakes and failures. It shouldn't become fodder for everyone to feed. If, indeed, someone does come to you with a sincere request to pray for a sensitive situation, do just that and pray! Keep your mouth shut! Proverbs 11:13, "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." (NIV)
It is easy to get caught up in gossip, however, if someone did that to you, how would you feel? "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Be the positive example and not the mistake to learn from.
In closing, remember, "Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." Proverbs 16:24