Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.
Gossip can ruin your reputation. Yet gossip is incredibly easy. Wise men will know you are wicked and will rebuke you, and you will be disgraced and shamed. The lesson is simple: do not talk critically or negatively about others; do not spread news or rumors; do not slander anyone. Gossip is a heinous sin, and it can permanently stain your reputation.
This is half of a proverb. The first half says, “Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another” (Pr 25:9). Good men only discuss differences or offences with the person involved, not with others. If you tell others about a conflict with someone, those others will know you are hateful, malicious, and wicked.
Jesus Christ taught the same rule of godliness and wisdom. He said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone” (Matt 18:15). If you cannot ignore the offence of another, go tell him his fault. Instead of telling others about the problem, tell him alone. The rule is clear and definite.
When you have a problem with someone, it is cruel and malicious to tell others about it. You do so in order to defame and injure the other party and obtain sympathy for your cause. You seek to hurt another person’s reputation and exalt your own. The holy God of heaven considers such intentions and actions to be murder (Matt 5:21-26). Beware!
You should keep controversies and offences between you and your adversary. If you tell others about them, it is called gossip. In the Bible, it was called backbiting, talebearing, tattling, and whispering, if you told the truth. These are terrible sins that God hates. If you lied about the matter, then it was also called slander. It does not matter that these sins are popular today and no longer preached against: they are heinous in God’s sight.
Godly men despise this evil treatment of others, and they will despise the person doing it. They will angrily rebuke those who gossip about others. It is a duty to do so. Solomon wrote, “The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue” (Pr 25:23). It is terrible that more wise men do not put backbiters, talebearers, whisperers, slanderers, and gossips to shame by angry rebukes (Lev 19:17; I Thess 5:14).
If you have a problem with someone, and you cannot gloriously overlook it, go to him alone and settle it through Christian charity. Put a guard on your heart, and do not even think about telling others. Only say complimentary and kind things about other people. Let your reputation be glorious and gracious, always edifying others (Eph 4:29; Col 4:6).