There appears to be an extremely thin line between seemingly innocent remarks or venting and a habit of sinful gossips. Sometimes some people might make a habit of remarking about others with true conviction that they're doing nothing wrong.
How can we tell the difference between talking about others and gossiping?
Well, there's very little difference to be honest. Probably nine out of 10 times we talk about others, it's gossip. Proverbs 6:19 tells us that the Lord hates the spreading of false witness. Hate seems to be a strong word, and it's hard to imagine a God of love hating something. But that's exactly what the Bible offers us.
Here are some other scriptures that speak strongly against gossip.
"A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much" (Proverbs 20:19).
"A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue" (Proverbs 17:4).
These are the five signs that your innocent remarks or the remarks of others that you might hear (don't talk about it with your girlfriends) are actually sinful gossips.
1. You Talk More About the Bad Than the Good
Gossip is always malicious in nature even if it doesn't appear to be on the surface. Even when we think we discuss things for "another person's good," it really does them no good—especially when all we do is talk about the flaws, mistakes and failures of others.
2. The Person You Share Information With Has Nothing to Do With the Situation or Person
The best rule of thumb whether someone should know about another person's situation or struggles is this: If they're not involved and they cannot offer help or a solution to others, they don't need to know. If you're thinking "well I don't have anything else to talk about" then there's no need to talk. Just read a book or something.
3. Your Heart's Motive Isn't to Build Up
At the heart of gossip is never to build up others. It's usually done by people who want to bring down others mostly to make themselves feel good. 1 Thessalonians urges us to "encourage one another and build one another up." Any conversations about others that goes beyond those motives might probably be unfruitful and even sinful.
4. What You Say About the Other Isn't Verified or True
Gossips and rumours seem to go hand in hand all the time. When gossip comes out there's a very big chance that a portion of what gossipers have to say isn't at all verified or true. And it just makes sense because one rumour is usually derived from another rumour, and the story seems to take some other shape every time it is relayed.
5. There Is Little to No Solutions Discussed
When a conversation about someone else offers no solution, then it's none of our business. Fruitful talk about someone else's struggles or problems will cause us to come up with a solution and confront the person of interest. If there's no intention to do so in the beginning, then it's most likely just gossip.