Step Towards Transformation
Gossip is gossip even if it is between husband and wife. It is gossip if you are talking about others in your family, it is gossip if you are talking about people at the church, it is gossip if you are talking about people at work.
So many people have a blind spot in regards to their spouses. Due to the normal intimacy of the marital relationship, we have a tendency to want to share everything. This results in us talking about things that we shouldn’t. This is damaging to everyone because once something is said it can’t be unsaid
Let’s use a imaginary example.
Ravi comes home from the church, and says something to his wife Sheetal. He is bursting with news. Is he going to give her some good news and tell her what the teaching was about? Why, no, that’s not news. He wants to hurry up and tell her about Atul, and…. And…. And. You get the idea. Ravi shares all the news, all the juicy details, and forever changes his wife’s impression of Atul, whom she’s never even met but already dislikes. They chew over the issue, with Sheetal fussing in disapproval and Ravi saying “I know” as if he does know but of course he doesn’t .
So, what has happened here? Ravi has shared information that he does not even know is true, and even if it is, it’s none of his business. He’s compromised the privacy of a brother and affected how his wife views him.
Now, imagine it’s a couple of months later and Sheetal is in a friends party for a dinner. She’s introduced to Atul. Now, instead of one person greeting another with a pure heart, she has mental reservations because of the information she has.
It’s even worse when we talk about family members, because we are more often to come into contact with them. I know it’s tempting to talk about things with your husband or wife, but honestly, think before you speak. You might cause your husband to hate your sister, or your wife to dislike your mother, all because you talked about some private matter that was better left unsaid. Think before you speak.
It’s tempting to think we can share everything with our spouse but that’s not the case. Sometimes we should just keep our mouth shut and not say anything. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s also biblical:
I have a friend that shares with me about other coworkers that have either said something that he did not like or hurt his feelings, in the past and currently, and I was wondering what exactly is the difference between just venting and gossiping. He sometimes begins by saying “I am just venting,” which sometimes I know that I do, but I know there is a fine line between venting and gossiping and I want to make sure that I do not cross that line
First let us take what your coworker is doing, he is talking about something “he did not like, or hurt his feelings;” hence he is talking about bad things people do or stuff he does not like about other people in some sort a way or form.
Dangers of the Work Area
Work is always a dangerous place to talk because anything you say is usually remembered and used against you later. Especially if you are a Christian, everyone is watching and will hold you to your word. If you break your word or talk bad about someone else, it usually comes out as a big deal because one is a Christian. It will be remembered for years down the road
But what does the Bible say about gossip?
Terms for Gossips in the Bible
This comes from the Hebrew word “rakiyl”, which means “slander, slanderer, tale bearer, informer”
The next word is in Hebrew is “ragan” which means “to murmur, whisper, (Qal) murmurer (participle) 1) to murmur 2) backbiter (participle).”
In the Greek “psithyrismos” means: 1) a whispering, i.e. Secret slandering; 2) of the magical murmuring of a charmer of snakes.
Also people who are going about gossiping (phyaros) are also called busy bodies (periergos).
One last word for busy bodies is in the Greek allotriepiskopos, which means “one who takes the supervision of affairs pertaining to others and in no wise to himself, a meddler in other men’s affairs.”
Let us take note that the basic meaning of gossip is to be in other people’s business and to slander is to put down or telling stuff that should not be told.
What Does Gossip Look Like?
There is a story of one of Noah’s son’s in the Bible and how Ham went out and gossiped about his father:
“And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him” (Genesis 9:20-24).
“In regards to the topic at hand, Ham found the nakedness of his father something unusual, perhaps of amusement — enough to tell others about it. The word used, wayyagedh, carries the implication of telling or explaining something in detail. In this he showed disrespect for his father. Shem and Japheth refused to look at their father’s nakedness and hid it. In this they showed Noah respect. Yet, the key to understanding this event is knowing that nakedness was a matter of shame, even in the privacy of a person’s own tent”
What we notice is that Ham saw his father nakedness as entertaining enough he wanted to tell other people about it, yet did not take care of the problem. We see the attitude of Ham was wrong and he gossiped, but the attitude of the two other brothers was correct that it was wrong to indulge in such talk, that it was shameful, they went and fix the situation, and on top of that showed respect by not even looking at their father while covering him with a blanket. In a sense they rebuked their brother’s actions with their own.
We know your friend does this because you said “something he did not like, or hurt his feelings.” I do not know him personally, so all I have is your word to go off of,
When most people say “I am just venting,” they are gossiping because they slander people.
If I say, “Raju over there, is so frustrating because he is so childish. He needs to grow up. And he tells all those stupid jokes. I can’t wait to get away from him!” I then say, “Sorry I just needed to vent because Raju is annoying, so childish and immature. I just wish I did not have to work with him.”
When people say venting it means something that you do not like that another is doing or has done to you. It doesn’t mean what the other person did was bad, you just don’t like how they did it. By telling other people, you are letting other people, who cannot do something about the situation, know you do not like something about this person.
A gossip is known for telling more than one person, or will tell one person who will tell everyone else (another gossip).
Gossip can be about anything, even the truth. For example: “Did you hear that Raju and his wife are separated, I heard she left him for the other man”. Even though this might be true, it is not your issue to deal with nor is it correct to spread such things around in work place.
When people say, “I am venting” it is usually a way people justify gossiping.
A busy body is putting your nose where it don’t belong in someone else’s matters. Other people’s issues are not yours. A person is just complaining so he can be heard. What this does is make the person feel important.
If it is a real issue, such as sexual harassment or breaking laws or policies then that needs to be reported to someone in authority and not just complained about.
When it has nothing to do with you, leave it alone and say sorry but I do not want to hear gossip or venting. If the issue has to do with you, then go to the person directly who said it.
A lot of people go around telling everyone else about it and finally have the person who should have been talked to first be last person approached. Once you are done talking to the person, the conversation stays only between you and that person. It is no one else’s business. The people who ask what was said are definitely the ones not to tell.
When Is Venting OK?
Is it OK to vent? At times yes. I vent about work, friends, family and life to my wife. What I say to her stays only between her and I. But even with my wife, when I vent I don’t slander the person. I just say “this happened again at work today. I really need the weekend to come soon; I am stressed.”
Usually we will pray about a situation and the people in regards to how I can improve it. My venting doesn’t usually include telling tons of people but usually just my spouse. I don’t put down, but I do share my frustration with someone. I trust my wife and ask for her wisdom on the situation. When I do go outside of telling just my wife, it is usually to a mentor or someone who has wisdom to seek advice about the situations and how to handle it.
When your co-worker “vents,” is he speaking badly of other people? Is he ruining their reputation, putting someone down, belittling someone, elevating himself above others to make himself feel important, or telling more than one person? Does it happen often? If there is a real problem, why doesn’t he take it to management or talk to the problem person directly?
What to Do
If he is gossiping, it is your responsibility to make sure he no longer uses you as an outlet for his sin. You will have to let him know that you no longer want to hear “venting” because you think it is wrong. Tell him you are more than willing to talk about other things, just not things pertaining to his venting. If he asks why, it is a good opportunity to share a little bit about your faith, God, and why you follow what God says. Explain what gossip does to other people and how it affects everyone.