“For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11 ESV).
In addition to what we read here in 2 Thessalonians chapter three, the Scriptures have much to say regarding the type of behavior described in the passage quoted above…
“Don’t tell your secrets to a gossip unless you want them broadcast to the world” (Proverbs 20:19 TLB).
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13 NIV).
“Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships” (Proverbs 16:28 GW).
“The words of a whisperer or slanderer are like dainty morsels or words of sport [to some, but to others are like deadly wounds]; and they go down into the innermost parts of the body [or of the victim’s nature]” (Proverbs 26:22 AMPC).
“Anyone who spreads gossip will be silenced, and no one who is conceited will be my friend” (Psalm 101:5 CEV).
Proverbs 26:20 also tells us, “Where there is no fuel a fire goes out; where there is no gossip arguments come to an end” (CEV). This is a fitting illustration for 2 Thessalonians 3:11 for there are three things required to start a fire: oxygen, fuel, and an ignition source. With this in mind, we can say that information (or speculation) serves as the oxygen for gossip. A busybody who holds that information represents the potential fuel source. Ignition occurs (and gossip begins) when the person who possesses the information begins to repeat it to others.
When faced with a fire of any kind, the fastest way to stop it is to deprive it of fuel or oxygen. Not surprisingly, the fastest way to stop gossip involves a similar approach- don’t take part in spreading innuendo and don’t encourage others to do so.
We can differentiate between legitimate information-sharing and gossip by uncovering the nature of the information with a few important questions…
- Is it meddlesome?
- Is it gratuitous?
- Is it helpful?
- Does it serve to tear another person down or build that person up?
Asking such questions can help us heed Jesus’ warning from the Gospel of Matthew…
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you” (Matthew 12:35-37 NLT).