What Does the Bible Say About Gossip

I remember well my first real experience with someone spreading gossip about me and the hurt those half-truths caused me, but do you know what I remember even better? 

The time I betrayed the trust of a friend by revealing a confidence.  The look on her face still haunts me and it was 20 years ago.  Hopefully, these Bible verses about gossip will prevent you from the same hurtful mistake and ruined relationship.

We are also going to discuss scriptures for when someone talks bad about you and how God wishes us to respond so if you are in that situation, keep reading.


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What Does the Bible Say about Gossip and Backbiting

The Bible is full of verses on the topic of gossip because, let’s admit it, our tongue is hard to control.  James was pretty fired up about the topic of controlling our tongues which leads me to believe he saw a huge problem in the church.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.

Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 

James 3:3-6 NIV

Powerful isn’t it?  How can we control large animals and yet cannot control one of the smallest members of our own body? 

He isn’t finished yet!

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. 

James 3:9-12

How can we praise God in one breath and then curse our neighbors in the next?

Gossip is one of those sins that sneaks up on you in your daily interactions with people.  It is often subtle and appears to be harmless and yet many hurt feelings and broken relationships have been the result.  

Biblical Consequences of Gossip

Proverbs talks about the consequences of gossip.  Why is gossip harmful?

  • It separates close friends (or any friends)
  • It hurts people deeply (and for long periods of time)
  • It escalates situations (causing drama and a volatile situation)

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. 

Proverbs 17:9

Solomon is telling us here to cover offenses and not tell others about them.  We often feel justified when we’ve been wronged, but in the end we ruin relationships.

Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. 

Proverbs 26:20-22

Gossip fans the flame.  We’ve all seen that in both the media and in our personal lives.

Examples of Gossip in the Bible

King David experienced the cruel affects of gossip.  He expresses his distress over the situation in Psalm 41.

My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?” When one of them comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it around. All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, “A vile disease has afflicted him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.” Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. 

Psalm 41:5-9

Jeremiah struggled with people watching him and waiting for him to fail. In the case of this great prophet, people didn’t like his message from God.  They were scared, angry, and hateful, avoiding the truth.

I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

  Jeremiah 20:10

Notice how both of these men had friends that were speaking against them?  It hurts us the most when it is the people in our lives whom we trust that talk badly about us.

two women gossiping with a sign that sas 22 bible verses about gossip

Bible Verses about Gossip

Bible verses about gossip include all kinds of negative speaking against others whether it be out right lies, idling talking about others, or spreading stories (true or not).

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. 

Proverbs 21:23

Bible Verses about Gossip and Drama

I dislike drama, seriously I do, and nothing creates more of it than gossip.  Sometimes, we women love a good story and will spend too much time telling them.  Paul instructs women to busy themselves with taking care of their house and children rather than spending their time foolishly.

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 busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to.

So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 

1 Timothy 5:13-14

I feel as if in our day of modern technology that it is a lot easier to take care of our homes while chatting on the phone, texting photos, and perusing social media.  Opportunity to become busy bodies and talk idly has never been more available. 

I challenge you to take note of your words throughout the day.  Are they uplifting?  Encouraging?

 A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. 

Proverbs 17:4

Solomon mentions here, not only the person who is spreading the lies but the one who stops and listens.  He says a wicked person listens.  We can prevent drama by making it known that we will not listen to nor spread the negativity.

Related: Overcoming the Spirit of Gossip with Prayer

Bible Verses about Gossip and Rumors

We see rumors everywhere.  They are in the media, on Facebook, and in our churches.  Unfortunately, they are often in our own family.  There isn’t much we can do to change other people’s actions, but we can control ourselves.

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.

Proverbs 20:19

Begin with avoiding anyone who is spreading the rumors and drama.  This can be a hurtful step, but separating ourselves from those who are creating the drama will dramatically reduce the stress in our lives.

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices. 

Colossians 3:8-9

Rid yourself of the rumors and filthy language.  Be sure you do no add to it or engage in any way.

Bible Verses about Gossip and Slander

By definition slander means “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.”

Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.  A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. 

Proverbs 11:12-13

Bite your tongue, keep a confidence, and hold onto a secret.  In other words, be a good friend!

Do not go about spreading slander among your people. 

Leviticus 19:16

You can’t get any clearer than that commandment.

Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; 

Psalm 101:5

God hears all and sees all.  Those who do not keep His commandments will suffer the consequences in one way or another.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart, whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others.

Psalm 15:1-3

Bible Verses about Speaking Negatively

Listening to and spreading gossip is just one danger of our tongue.  The Bible talks about speaking negatively in general.

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. 

Ephesians 4:29

Unwholesome talk comes in all shapes and sizes.  Can you relate to the struggle of controlling your tongue?  Where does unwholesome talk become a trap for you?  Jesus says we will give an account for every idle word spoken.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

Matthew 12:36-37

David understood this.  May we use his prayer.

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. 

Psalm 141:3

Scripture for When Someone Talks Bad about You

Gossip goes both ways.  We need to learn to bridle our own tongues as well as deal with the hurtful results of others who haven’t learned that lesson yet.

So, what do we do when someone is spreading gossip about us?  Let’s go over some Bible verses about how to respond to gossip about ourselves.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 

1 Peter 2:12

First, do not do anything that would give people cause to speak negatively about you.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

1 Peter 3:9

As we all know, people will talk out of jealousy, fear, anger etc. and often times it is not something we have wrong.  In this case, we must remember not to retaliate.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  )

Romans 12:17-19

I feel as if following Paul’s words from Philippians is a good way to sum up these Bible verses about gossip.  If we keep our minds and hearts focused on the following then we will have no room to listen to, spread, or worry about the effects of gossip.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Philippians 4:18

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