I’ve often found that when I take a step to grow in intimacy with the Lord, I encounter a person or situation ready to challenge my faith.

While on an extended fast recently, my husband and I visited a couple. They were kind enough to honor my fast, providing fast-friendly snacks during the football game. Sounds like a blessed evening, right?

But toward the end of the evening, as I walked into the kitchen to fill my cup with water, I suddenly found myself under attack by a full-force interrogation from the hostess. It was as if her entire demeanor had changed in a premeditated, deliberate way. This hostess began to dig, asking me ill-intended questions about a woman not present. Then, she expressed her dislike toward a second woman, and just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, she hurled false insinuations towards -- me. 

The ambush was completely unexpected, and, frankly, I felt slimed.   

Fortunately, God was quick to illuminate His truth in this situation, and He bridled my tongue. He reminded me that He called me to minister to women, not tear them down.

The enemy comes to incite, to tempt and to torment when we fast, just like he did when Jesus was in the desert before he began his ministry. What’s particularly interesting about this situation is that one of the purposes of this fast was to seek the Lord for His clarity and direction concerning that year’s Women’s Workplace Conference. I had already experienced much clarity and formed some very specific ideas for the conference in weeks prior. I believe the enemy wanted to put a stop to this wonderful flow of revelations by causing me to stumble into the sin of gossip. And not just gossip about anyone, but gossip about women. Oh, the just cause he would’ve had against me in the heavenly courts! 

The Deadly Nature of Gossip

The day after this kitchen encounter, God revealed to me that a piranha-like spirit lurks behind the tongue of gossip. This is no small thing. This spirit bites and devours. It tears from every angle with a malicious intent to consume. It first attacks the person who gossips. Then it pours out from them.

Have you ever heard the saying, what goes around, comes around?  There is truth to that statement. Obadiah 1:15 says, “As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head.”  Frightening, isn’t it?  Remember, too, that Haman was hung on his own gallows (Esther 7:10). 

Another trait of gossip is that it is done in hiding places, in darkness. I could clearly see that this woman was not willing to say such abominations in front of our husbands, who sat in the next room. Why? Because she knew it was wrong, and she did not want her condemning words to expose her sin. 

If you research the character of piranhas, you’ll see that they prefer darkness. The darker the better. And they like to hide behind grasses, or in this case, the kitchen. If placed in an aquarium in odd numbers, Piranhas will even gobble up the odd one. 

What Does the Bible Have to Say About Gossip? 

The King James Version of the Bible refers to gossips as “talebearers.” Proverbs 11:13 says that they reveal secrets, and Proverbs 18:8 and Proverbs 26:22say that “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” The New Living Translation says rumors sink deep into the heart. Proverbs 16:28 says, " . . . a gossip separates close friends."

I believe that gossip can be rooted in fear and various forms of selfishness, including unforgiveness, anger, arrogance, jealousy and feelings of inadequacy.  James 3:16 says that where there’s envy and selfish ambition, there’s every evil practice. 1 Peter 2:1 tells us to rid ourselves of all malice, envy and slander. Galatians 5:19 says that jealousy is an act of sinful nature, and people “who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Romans 1:29-30 has a few things to say about gossiping too, describing it as a form of wickedness. Proverbs 6:12-15 tells us that disaster will overtake those with a corrupt mouth. Psalms 34:13 tells us to keep our tongues from evil. Leviticus 19:16 says, “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.” Let us also remember that slander and defamation are illegal. 

Yes, there is power in the tongue.   

Interesting how the enemy can use even Christians to do his dirty deeds when we are willing. The Bible says that we cannot serve two masters. We choose each day—intentionally or unintentionally—who we will serve.  2 Timothy 2:16 says, “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” 

Whether it’s at the kitchen refrigerator water dispenser or the workplace water cooler, we would do well to remember the woman at the well. Even though Jesus’ own Jewish culture did not usually associate with Samaritans, He went out of His way to reach out to the Samaritan woman, offering her Living Water (John 4). He didn’t condemn her, even though her past and current choices of circumstance were less than sterling. He met her with a heart of compassion and salvation. Are we not to model His love for others in this way?   

I love Romans 2:1, which essentially asks us, “Why to you judge others when you yourself commit the same sins?” 

God forgets our sins once they’re forgiven. Are we not to keep our eyes on the Lord, not look to our past? Are we not all sinners saved by grace?

Through God’s grace, I have forgiven this woman and prayed for the dismantling of the malicious spirit that hides behind a pretty mask. But no doubt, the temptation to gossip will come again, perhaps next time in a more subtle way. Next time you’re confronted with a “little” gossip – at work, at church, or among your friends - what will you do?

This article was originally published on Crosswalk Women in March 2008.


Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God’s Love at Work for Women, a Christian ministry purposed to cultivate the hearts of women in the marketplace through sharing God’s powerful love.  To learn more about the 2008 God’s Love at Work Women’s Expo, free devotionals, teleseminars or Margaret’s latest book: 100 Passengers, please visit http://www.godsloveatwork.com/