Proverbs 16:28

A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

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Stop! Stop talking negatively about others. If you cannot say something good, then do not say anything. Only perverse and profane persons gossip and backbite. You should abhor the thought of committing rape or murder – but slander or talebearing is both. It violates a person’s reputation instead of his body, and it ruins his joy, peace, and friends. Stop!

Gossiping destroys families, churches, businesses, and friends. A froward man is evil, obnoxious, and unreasonable. He loves to cause division by spreading rumors, innuendos, secrets, or lies about others. If you hate such men, you are in good company, because God hates them (Pr 6:16-19). He blasts these evil talkers in both testaments (Pr 10:18; 11:13; 18:8; 20:19; 26:20-26; Ps 50:20-22; 101:5; Lev 19:16; Rom 1:29-30; II Co 12:20).

What men call gossip, the Bible calls backbiting, evil surmising, talebearing, tattling, and whispering. These similar terms describe the sin of spreading secrets about others in order to agitate, despise, divide, harm, or undermine them. Slander is spreading of false information in order to defame. Both sins cause strife and trouble, and they divide close friends by revealing private facts, forgiven sins, or outright lies about one or both friends.

Never use words to harm someone else unless clearly necessary (I Cor 1:11). If you know of a person’s sin, hide it from others (Pr 11:13). Cover it, rather than expose it, in order to promote love (Pr 17:9). If you have a problem with someone, then either overlook it or take care of it with him alone (Pr 10:12; 19:11; 25:9-10; Matt 18:15). If you do not fear and hate gossip, remember that God views harmful words as murder (Matt 5:21-22).

If you catch a man badmouthing another, stop the sin by an angry response (Pr 25:23). You would use any means to stop a rape or murder, and this crime is related, so respond forcibly to verbal wickedness as well. Do not ever let a backbiter, talebearer, or whisperer get away with their crime in your presence. If you allow and listen to their divisive and perverse insinuations, you are guilty with them (Pr 17:4). If you clearly identify such a wicked person, get rid of him, because he will only bring you trouble (Pr 26:20-28).

Beware of social media. Beware of texting, tweeting, instant messaging, blogging, forwarding, and commenting. It has never been easier to violate this proverb than with today’s ease of expressing yourself to one or many. Sin happens often by any review of what many people send back and forth via their cell phones or computers. These modern witty inventions can be helpful and nice conveniences but are often tools for verbal sins.

Godly men never harm others by divisive words (Ps 15:3). Even if actions are suspicious, they believe and hope all things about that person to avoid thinking evil of them (I Cor 13:4-7). This is the most godly, peaceful, and successful way to live. By choosing to be a peacemaker, you are a true child of God (Mat 5:9; Jas 3:17-18). Purify your heart, and let it produce gracious words at all times to win the favor even of kings (Pr 22:11; Col 4:6).