Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Proverbs 26:22
According to many Christians, gossip is generally considered one of the respectable or acceptable sins, and it should not be so. It is sin, which means it is not respectable and it is not acceptable.
Matt Mitchell, pastor of the Lanse Evangelical Free Church, Lanse, PA, has written an important and helpful book on gossip, understanding what it is, recognizing its enticing yet destructive nature, and how, by God’s grace, to overcome it: Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue (CLC Publications).
Mitchell raise a number of questions: What is gossip? What makes gossip wrong? Why do we do it? More importantly, how do we stop it? He then explains why he wrote this important book.
I wrote Resisting Gossip to help ordinary Christians solve an everyday problem for which there has been very few helpful resources. We encounter gossip all the time, but most of us have never been taught how to recognize it for what it is, resist the temptation to pass it along, and respond in faith and love when we are the target. I’m hoping that my book will aid Christ-followers to combat this insidious problem with the promises of the gospel!
The book has four parts: Part 1: Recognizing Gossip; Part 2: Resisting Gossip; Part 3: Responding to Gossip; Part 4: Regretting Gossip. It also includes a final Bonus Chapter for Church Leaders, which addresses ways to cultivate a gossip-resistant church, with a provocative yet profound subtitle, “loose lips sink fellowships, but the gospel wins the war of the wagging tongue.”
Mitchell defines gossip as follows (p.23): “Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.”
A “gallery of gossips” are identified (pp. 46-59): 1) the spy; 2) the grumbler; 3) the backstabber; 4) the chameleon; and 5) the busybody.
Mitchell presents five constructive alternatives to gossip (pp. 80-89):
There is much more, but this gives you a sense of the excellent issues addressed and constructive, gospel-centered way of addressing the sin of gossip. Here are a few recommendations.
The Biblical Counseling Coalition posted a review that consists of the following:
Mitchell has provided a practical guide that helps everyone recognize, resist, respond, and regret this pervasive and insidious sin. Because of its accessibility, strong biblical and theological foundation, and warm-hearted pastoral tone, biblical counselors will find this book an invaluable resource, not only for their parishioners, but for themselves as well.Resisting Gossip’s gospel-centered, elegant simplicity will benefit the church for years to come.
I do not consider myself particularly prone to gossip. At least, I didn’t. But this book showed me that I may be more susceptible than I like to think. I tend to be comfortably legalistic by keeping my definitions so narrow that they exclude me. But by widening the definition of gossip—and doing so biblically, I believe—Mitchell showed me that I may be more of a gossip than I care to admit. And isn’t it interesting that I kept trying to rewrite that sentence to keep from labeling myself a gossip. I will own being drawn to it or prone to it, but I resist owning it.
I enjoyed Resisting Gossip in the most lasting sense, because there were several areas in which it challenged and criticized me and then offered me hope. I was sorry to have to come face-to-face with my proneness to gossip, but in the end, grateful for the rebuke. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”
Andy Naselli summarizes the book, “It’s convicting, edifying, accessible, and practical.”
Karen, my dear wife, asked me, “Do you have this book? It looks good.” My response. I do, and it is!