The Bible tells us that we should not gossip, but so many of us keep doing it. Did you know that gossiping can happen even when we don't intend to do it? As such, we should always be careful with the words that come from our mouth.
If we want to keep ourselves from gossiping, it would be wise to consider every word we say and motive we have for saying it. Best of all, we must remember that we are accountable to God for every single word we say. The Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:35-37,
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
That said, we should all be careful to check our hearts and be watchful of the words we say.
Ways we gossip without knowing it
If we don't want to gossip, we should avoid doing some things listed below.
1) Detailed prayer requests for another person
Have you ever asked your friends in prayer group for personal prayers? If so, that's a good thing. Have you tried asking for prayers on behalf of another person? That's also good.
The problem with the latter, however, begins when we give too much information about the person we are asking the prayer for. Suppose a friend is in sin or is in a tight spot that's quite personal, we don't go around telling people about that friend's problems or sins in detail in an effort to get more people to pray for him.
Such prayer requests may cause people to think wrongly about others.
2) Unauthorized sharing of a person's struggles in an attempt to get opinions
Some of us are "so concerned" about others that we don't realize we're already spreading their private issues to people who shouldn't know. How do we do this? Through the unauthorized sharing of another's struggles.
Suppose you have a friend in sin who confesses to you and asks for counsel. You don't go around telling that person's name and problem in order to receive counsel, because when we do that we unintentionally gossip and break that person's trust.
3) Seeking comfort by telling others how a brother or sister wronged you
One more way we gossip is when we tell others how we were wronged and name the person who wronged us when this detail didn't need to be shared, for example, if the person already apologized and the issue was redressed and it seemed like things were moving on; or whether they really wronged you or not is a matter of interpretation.
The intention might be just to seek counsel and comfort, but it can end up doing more than that.
And if we're honest with ourselves, sometimes we love to play the victim and slip in some "juicy" and "edited" details regarding the people who supposedly hurt us, how they hurt us, and how we felt about it, so that we can come off looking better than them and absolving ourselves from any responsibility or culpability.
One common example is by giving a sob story of how a trusted person hurt you. "I trusted this friend," you say, "but he lied to me and did [insert act here] to me. I felt so betrayed."
This action, called "backbiting," often takes place when the other person is not around to defend themselves or give their side of the story. Backbiting is wrong and shouldn't be done.