Gossip is a sin that we take far too lightly. Gossip is easy. Our culture has become desensitized from it because the news and social media regularly focus on people’s failures. We share “information” on social media without getting the facts or getting it from the source when we could. We find pleasure in seeing people fail rather than succeed.

Gossip takes many forms and is done for many different reasons. It isn’t always talking about the failures of others — it can take the form of painting a picture of someone in a negative light to others because we don’t like them. We pick something out that we don’t like about someone and present it with the hope that others won’t like them either. We can harm reputations by lying about someone to others because we are envious. We might twist someone’s words or ideas to make them look bad.

We think that if we whisper something in secret to a close friend, it isn’t harmful to the person we are talking about, to person we are talking to or to ourselves. We often gossip to make ourselves feel good. We point out the sins and failures in others while we ignore our own. In this way, we attempt to make ourselves look better in the eyes of our friends, family and ourselves. Gossip can be our way of avoiding ourselves by directing ours and others’ attention to the apparent negatives of others.

Gossip is often equivalent to slander. My husband teaches in his Intro to Philosophy class that slander is considered a form of murder in Jewish tradition. We are attempting to destroy someone’s reputation — to destroy their name. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” God spoke the universe into existence. Gossip often attempts to undo what God has done. Do we take the wickedness of gossip that seriously? I certainly don’t.

We need to think about the careless words we choose when talking about our neighbor, about our classmate and about our fellow brother or sister in Christ. Gossip damages the person doing the gossip, the person listening to it and the person we gossip about. Three people are harmed with just a few words. I thank Jesus that I am forgiven for any gossip I have done. Let’s ask God for the strength and courage to never do it again.