Gossip looks really good in church clothes. Maybe more than any other sin, it cleans up nice. It can present itself in a number of Sunday outfits. It can dress up like heartfelt concern for others. It can seem like a personal invitation to confidentiality and closeness with the one receiving the gossip. It can even put on the clothing of a prayer request.
Gossip is mentioned in a few lists of interpersonal sins, grouped with things such as strife, quarrels, deceit, and slander (Rom. 1:29; 2 Cor. 12:20). It is linked to the primal sins of idolatry and ingratitude. Perhaps the most colorful depiction is found in Paul’s advice to Timothy on a problem in the church he was pastoring. Young widows were using their time and energy not for the building up of either the household of faith or a household of their own but rather “to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (1 Tim. 5:13).
Gossip is our attempt to negatively shape people’s opinions of someone for his harm and our gain. Our gain may be as simple as the thrill of being the person in the know. Or it could be something more sinister, such as the moral superiority of knowing about a scandal but not being involved in it. Or even worse, it could be intentionally ruining the reputation of one of our rivals. Those gains are the selfish motivation for gossip.