by Rick Warren — August 26, 2023
From Essentials for Living
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”
Proverbs 11:13 (NIV)
We tend to think of gossip as one of those “little” sins. But when God talks about gossip, he puts it on the list with things like sexual immorality and murder. Why? Because it is so destructive to relationships. Gossip can tear apart friendships, families, and churches.
When you gossip, you talk about a situation with somebody who is neither a part of the problem nor a part of the solution. If we’re honest, gossiping often makes us feel a little more important at somebody else’s expense. We’re talking about their hurts and their problems to make us feel like we’re morally superior to them. That’s the danger and the hurt of gossip.
There’s a story in the Old Testament about a family that struggled with gossip. Moses had siblings named Miriam and Aaron who got caught up gossiping about him. So God called all three of them to come see him. He spoke to Miriam and Aaron, telling them that Moses was his prophet and that what they’d done was wrong—and right there on the spot, God gave Miriam leprosy because she had instigated the gossip and then talked her younger brother, Aaron, into joining her.
You may be thinking, “That sounds terrible, but I’d like something to happen to the person who gossiped about me. Certainly not leprosy—but maybe a bad stomach flu, so that person knows how much it hurt me.”
Do you know what happened next? Aaron acknowledged their sin against Moses, and he asked Moses to pray for Miriam’s healing. And so Moses asked God to heal her. He prayed for the person who had gossiped against him. And after seven days, God healed Miriam.
Maybe you’ve been deeply hurt by gossip—by things that have been said around the office or by the broken confidence of a friend or family member. Here’s what God says to you: “Pray for the person who gossiped against you so that you can be released from the hurt in your life.”
Or maybe you’ve been the one gossiping. This story of Miriam, Aaron, and Moses in the Old Testament reminds us how serious gossip is and how hurtful it can be to people, whatever side of it you’re on.
But on the other hand, keeping confidences enables you to connect to others in productive, healthy, and genuine ways.
Proverbs 11:13 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (NIV).
How would you measure yourself against this verse? Are you a gossip who betrays a confidence? Or are you someone who can be trusted to keep a confidence?