13 A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. 14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:13–14, NKJV)
The word of God makes a clear distinction between spreading rumors about others (gossip) and seeking counsel from faithful souls who respectfully and scripturally advise (without sinfully violating confidences). Gossip and tale bearing are the sins of meddlers who spread information that is not theirs to spread (2 Thess. 3:11-12; 1 Pet. 4:15). Tale bearing exposes impure motives from a heart that is often bitter, resentful, vindictive, and even hateful. On the other hand, there is certainly value in wise counsel, and we are taught to seek it out and follow it (Prov. 1:5; 9:9; 12:15; 15:22; 19:20; 20:18; 24:6; 27:9). Asking advice from another personal is not automatically gossip or spreading rumors. Seeking out wise counsel on how to handle a matter in a godly way may indeed necessitate sharing certain information about the parties involved. Requesting such assistance must come from a heart set on doing God’s will without being clouded and driven by sinful motives. Seek out counselors who are trustworthy (“a faithful spirit”), who give sound counsel, and who do not make matters worse by revealing things (tale bearing) that ought to be concealed (Prov. 17:9).
A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. (Proverbs 11:13, NKJV)
This proverb does not endorse covering up sin. We are counseled by divine wisdom not to be a rumormonger, slanderously traveling about spreading tales about others. “But, it’s the truth!,” some rationalize as they betray trust and advertise a person’s private struggles. Perhaps it is true. If so, have you gone to that person with meekness to help them in their time of need (Galatians 6:1)? Talebearers do not “bear one another’s burdens,” they bring havoc and heartache by casting a person’s burdens to the wind (Galatians 6:2). Woe to the one who tries to promote themselves by spreading harmful messages that embarrass and hurt others. We must be of “a faithful spirit” (trustworthy disposition) when handling information about others. Don’t be a talebearer. Know when to keep a matter private. Doing so is a mark of wisdom.
20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. 21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. 22 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body. (Proverbs 26:20–22, NKJV)
An entire industry exists to peddle gossip. From People magazine, to TMZ website, to E! News (whose byline is, “Your source for entertainment news, celebrities, celeb news, and celebrity gossip”) – millions and millions of dollars are spent on “tasty trifles” about the “rich and famous” (or, infamous). Gossip is a sin that causes division and strife (1 Peter 4:15). It spreads rumors that harm reputations and destroys relationships. It expresses a cowardly heart, backbiting, but rarely actually facing the person being smeared. The way to stop gossip is not to give it fuel; do not listen to the gossiper. Remember, the person who gossips to you about someone, is also more than likely gossiping about you to someone else. Gossip is an evil that will only stop when the heart is purified of its malice, and kindness is put in its place (Ephesians 4:31-32). That requires godly sorrow, producing repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).