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 How to Handle Gossip, Slander and Discord

I found this on a church's blog and even though it's only an outline...there is a lot of good stuff in it to think upon. This is a very serious sin that is wide-spread amongst churches in America - it is a problem. And [url=]Jeff Noblit[/url] has two excellent messages on Church Discipline that address this area and the actions that church leaders should take.

How to Handle Gossip, Slander and Discord: Part One

GFBC recently had the misfortune of walking through the valley of the shadow of discord. As a result, we have spent a great deal of time learning how to handle gossip and slander. In doing so, we became aware of the fact that most Christians know very little about dealing with these issues. Even our leaders learned a great deal in the process. In fact, there probably wasn’t a person in the church who left without grieving their own sin in this area. There have been so many requests for the outline of what we shared that we decided to provide it here.

Sewing discord is one of the most heinous sins in the Bible:

“There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
(Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV)

Means and Methods of Sewing Discord


A.Definition: Casual or unconstrained reports about other people, typically involving details that are not true (Oxford English Dictionary).

B.yiquristh/ß (psithuristes): a whisperer

C.Clearly Identified as Sin:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16-22

Romans 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

D.Warned Against:

“Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart. Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (Proverbs 26:17-28 ESV)

“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28 ESV)

“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” (1 Timothy 5:13 ESV)


A.Definition: A false and malicious spoken statement that may bring harm to the reputation of another (Oxford English Dictionary).

B.dusfhmi÷a (dusphemia); evil speaking, defamation.

C.Identified as Sin

“For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20 ESV)

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” (1 Peter 2:1 ESV)

Psalms 15:1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; 3 who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.

D.Warned Against

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.” (Proverbs 20:19 NAS95)

Psalms 101:5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

[b]III.Rules of Thumb[/b]

When dealing with information and communication, it is important to think through our actions in order to avoid gossip and slander. Thus, we have to ask ourselves whether or not we need to speak at all about what we know. Here are some simple rules to follow:

A.Is it Kind?

If what we have to say about a brother or sister is kind, then by all means we should say it. We should encourage, extol and praise one another often. However, if what we have to say about
another is unkind, we may be involved in slander.

B.Is it True?

We must never share anything if we are not certain about its veracity. However, some things may not be kind but they are true, nonetheless. In most cases, they still should not be shared. The fact that something is true does not automatically mean it should be shared.

C.Is it Necessary?

Sometimes we must share things that are unkind (but true). For instance, if a brother is engaged in destructive, sinful behavior, and I have confronted the issue to no avail, I may have to share it with another in order to escalate the confrontation and get him help or call him to repentance.

[b]IV.General Unconstrained Speech[/b]

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.* 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,* these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

 2008/2/12 17:05

 Re: How to Handle Gossip, Slander and Discord, Part 2

How to Handle Gossip, Slander and Discord: Part Two

[b]How to Deal With Discord (Matthew 18)[/b]

““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed* in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”” (Matthew 18:15-20 ESV)

[b]I.Know the Difference Between Sin and Preference[/b]

“If your brother sins against you”

A.The Sin Must be Identifiable from Scripture (not opinion)

Poor Example: The Joneses allow their girls to wear sleeveless dresses in the summer. I believe sleeveless dresses are sinful. Therefore, I must confront the Joneses the next time I see their daughters in a sleeveless dress.

Good Example: The Jones boys were fighting in the bathroom. I told them to stop and they said, “Get a life, old man!” I am going to talk to their father about their rebellion, strife, and disrespect for their elders.

B.The Sin Must be Against YOU (i.e., you must be a ‘witness’ to the sin)!

Poor Example: Sally is really broken up over the way Harry has been treating her. I’m going to confront Harry about his sin.

Good Example: I saw Harry raise his voice at Sally and move toward her in a threatening way. I have to say something to him about what I saw. Or, Harry’s language was inappropriate when he and I talked yesterday. I’m going to call him and talk to him about his choice of words.

[b]II.Deal with Sin Brother to Brother[/b]

“go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone”

A.The Minute You Involve Another Party (in step one), you are in Sin (gossip/slander). This is very important and most people miss it. If your brother sins against you, you are not supposed to call another brother to talk with them about it. You must “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.”

B.The Minute Another Party Involves You (in step one), They are In Sin (gossip/slander) and You Must Confront it as Such

Poor Example: I heard the Hatfields and McCoys are in the midst of a big feud. I’m just telling you this so you can be praying for them.

Good Example: Unless you’ve seen this feud firsthand, you have just engaged in gossip. You need to stop this conversation, repent of your sin, confront the person who told you, then go to the Hatfields and McCoys and confess to them that you’ve been gossiping about them. I’ll give you three days to get this done before I intervene.

[b]III.Seek Restoration, not Vengeance[/b]

“If he listens to you, you have gained your brother”

A.The Goal is to Help Your Brother

B.Once Correction (true repentance) has Come, Leave it Alone. Don’t hold on to it so that you can use it again the next time your brother makes you mad... even if you have to forgive “seventy times seven.”

[b]IV.Only Involve Others When Your Efforts Have Failed[/b]

“But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church”

A.This is the Only Time Others are Involved

Poor Example: Mr. Jenkins was beating his wife so I confronted him about it. “I’m just telling you so you can be praying for him.” Or, “I know you sensed that something was going on and I don’t want your imagination to run wild.” THIS IS SIN!

Good Example: I confronted Mr. Jenkins about his treatment of his wife and he told me it was none of my business. I have to confront the issue again and I need someone to go with me and call him to repentance.

C.These Must be Mature Believers (Gal. 6:1)

D. A true believer should respond to loving rebuke. Anyone who does not is to be treated like an unbeliever until they bear the fruit of genuine repentance. “And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” In the meantime, we must pray for their restoration and trust that the Lord will use the sting of lost fellowship to call them to himself.

[b]A Final Word of Warning[/b]

1Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome

 2008/2/12 17:08


““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.


There's no fun in that. It's far better to talk behind his back and make sure that you have a dozen people on your side and understand that you've been hurt by this brother before going to make peace with him.

Of course thats not right, but thats EXACTLY what we do.

 2008/2/12 20:03


Thank you Joy.

 2008/2/12 20:30



Compliments wrote:
““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.


There's no fun in that. It's far better to talk behind his back and make sure that you have a dozen people on your side and understand that you've been hurt by this brother before going to make peace with him.

Of course thats not right, but thats EXACTLY what we do.

It certainly is the natural tendency of the flesh to do that. Which brings up the verses,

[i]"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Galatians 5:16-17, 25[/i]

If we're walking in the Spirit we will not slander, gossip and sow discord amongst the brethren.

 2008/2/13 14:46

Joined: 2008/1/11
Posts: 375
Minnesota, USA


[i]"Let your speech always be with grace."[/i] - Colossians 4:6


 2008/2/14 9:48Profile

Joined: 2007/2/15
Posts: 44


Here's a scenario: (How would people here handle this situation?)

Recently, at a prayer meeting, there was unity in the room as we praised the Lord and were seeking him, then the leader began praying for holiness in the church. That was good,...then he began to pray that "God would deal harshly with people who were 'resisting' the Holy Spirit, and that God would 'remove' them. The entire atmosphere changed and everyone got really quiet. One lady began crying she was so grieved over what he was praying. I sat down and stopped praying, being grieved.

After awhile I brought up the fact that I couldn't agree with his prayer, as it was unbiblical, that God loves people. I said, in my understanding of intercession, we are to pray for what people need, in this case, that people's eyes would be opened, and for mercy, not judgment.

Anyways, of course the leader brought up 'disunity' and 'discord'. The lady who was crying about this spoke up to this leader about legalism and the difference between holiness and perfectionism. I said that since this prayer was prayed publicly, (and was unbiblical) that was the reason I brought it up publicly. My concern was that the people in the room would think this was ok to pray this way. It's not. Jesus told us to 'bless' those who curse us, to pray for those that despitfully use us and mistreat us, not to pray for God to deal with them harshly and remove them.

Anyways, afterwards, the pastor said he thought it was ok and all good and affirmed this leaders prayer. What now? It's all very awkward. I don't want to subject myself to leadership like this. I have dear friends who attend this prayer meeting and are really struggling under this leadership because of the harshness. But when we try to say anything, we are told to 'deal with it' and to 'submit'. What a dilemma.

any ideas? of couse no one can really know the entire scenario, but any thoughts would be appreciated.

 2008/2/14 10:47Profile

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


Hi Wallbuilder,

If I had heard such a prayer from a leader, I might begin by asking him privately to define what 'resisting the Holy Spirit' is to him. This might help clarify whether this fellow is thinking of some well-founded concern over an outward sin (and is choosing to be discrete), or whether he is just being ye olde spiritual bully trying to control people inwardly.

It might be harder then we think to remain objective on this question.

A few years ago a friend of mine left our local church without saying much to anyone. When I called her to inquire as to the reason, she said she left in response to the pastor and offered me only a cryptic reason as to why. "It's fine and all to preach about grace, but you still need to live the life," she said. Letting the point go, we ended the conversation cordially. After hanging up, I made the mistake of putting my own meaning to her platitude...and assumed she was just being judgmental of some small behavior she didn't like in the pastor.

In other words, I put my own meaning to her rather veiled answer, not even realizing I was making an assumption.

6 months later, along with the entire congregation, I had to learn what she wouldn't say to me... that the pastor was in an unrepentant long term adulterous relationship with a lady in the church.

I relay this story only to advise you to try again to seek clarification from the leader in private. It may be that he knows of a particular unrepentant member's sin and is dealing with it the best way he knows how. While he would not be at liberty to disclose details and names, he could at least confirm whether or not he is responding to a real and valid concern. Such an understanding might relieve you from a misperception (and unnecessary resentment) that his earlier prayer was somehow a disturbing indication that he is becoming an abusive autocrat. He may just be a concerned leader (albeit inexperienced) who feels unable to be transparent about a legitimate problem he is facing within the congregation.



Mike Compton

 2008/2/14 12:25Profile

Joined: 2007/2/15
Posts: 44


Thanx MC

I appreciate the advice. It is a difficult situation that has been ongoing. It was good to read the article about this.

Even if people in the church have been 'resisting' the Holy Spirit (which they have) it is unbiblical to pray that God would deal harshly with them and remove them. Unfortunately, this leader has been kind of controlling with people. I won't go into all of it, but maybe myself and the other woman will talk to the pastor about this situation so this kind of thing doesn't keep happening. Thanx for the advice. Praise God-it's a chance for us all to grow now isn't it?

 2008/2/14 17:38Profile


Hello Wallbuilder,

The first thing that came to mind when I read your post was Keith Daniel's message on the Holy Spirit and he specifically addresses a situation similar to what you shared.

[url=]The Holy Spirit, part 1[/url] - note there are two parts to the message and it is also in video format.

I pray the Lord gives you wisdom in this situation and that you are led by the Holy Spirit in your interactions with your church leaders.

 2008/2/14 17:45

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