Are you a gossip spy? Do you know one?
This post by Donna Hart, PhD, appeared first on her blog and is reprinted here with permission.
A gossip spy is a person who loves to get the information on someone and then informs others for personal advantage. When you first get to know a gossip spy they can seem to be trustworthy, but they really are not.
One of the things that overflows from our hearts is gossip.
It is interesting that the Bible defines gossip as a kind of a person and not as a type of speech. It is something we are, not just something we do. God is more interested in what is in our hearts as we are speaking than the words, because the words represent what is going on inside.
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13
The Hebrew word translated as “gossip” is rakil, which means a peddler (of secrets), a huckster, deceiver, or spy.
Do you know someone like this? Are you an informer? This can be the eager-eared, probing side of gossip. Sometimes, it is so subtle we don’t catch it right away. Some people can be so good at probing that they simply mention a word of two, analyze our expressions, and just know how to get a story out of us.
Motivations of a Gossip Spy
What motivates a gossip spy? A spy often has a hunger for power because information is power. A spy will use our secrets to stir up trouble and use it as an opportunity to tear others down, all with the intent of building themselves up. The spy may think that knowing something that shouldn’t be known or being the first to know something is what enhances their reputation.
A gossip spy can be very competitive getting a thrill from being the first one to tell someone else about things. It makes them feel better about themselves because they “knew” before you did.
We often see how nasty this can get with teenage girls. They know they can get something they perceive as better than what they already have by trading one secret for another. They trade gossip to maintain power over each other in their cliques. For teen girls, gossip has the nasty power to include or exclude others.
No One Is Immune
We are not immune from this temptation. We like to be known as someone who knows things. We enjoy the feelings of status and being “on the inside.” We can all find ourselves sharing juicy tidbits about those we know just so we can be perceived as a “someone.” This is the “yuck” we hate to admit about ourselves that needs to change.
If we use gossip for the power it gives us, then we are using the wrong kind of power for the wrong purpose. We are using power in the evil way of Satan.
Power in and of itself is not evil; Jesus offers power to those who believe. We see this in Ephesians 1:19: “…His incomparable great power.” This is the same gospel power that brought Him back to life after He was crucified; this is the power of the Holy Spirit, and way better than anything that gossip promises.
Ephesians 3:20 say that there is “power that is at work within us” to bring unity and peace. One of the important ways to do protect ourselves from being a gossip spy is to not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
May we use the power of Jesus to do good and not be a gossip spy for personal gain. Let us strive to be more like Jesus being trustworthy people as Proverbs 11:13 teaches,
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
As Jesus is the one in whom we can trust our most shameful secrets and know that they will be safe with Him, may we be trustworthy and safe people to be around. Through the power of His Spirit we can learn to be trustworthy friends.
Join the Conversation
Why do you say the things you do? What’s going on inside you? Is there something overflowing from your heart?
For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
A Download for You
This download on 5 Rules of Biblical Communication will help you have better communication with your spouse. You may also use its truths for communication with employers, coworkers, and family members.