A black and white close-up photograph captures two hands holding a worn Bible, symbolizing redemption and grace amidst the delicate balance between silence and spreading kindness.

What Does The Bible Say About Talking Bad About Others?

Gossip and slander are unfortunately common occurrences in our lives. Whether at school, work, or even church, it’s easy to get caught up talking negatively about someone else. If you’ve ever wondered what God’s Word says about this topic, you’ve come to the right place!

In short, the Bible strongly cautions against gossip, slander, and speaking ill of others. Scripture tell us these actions are sinful and can deeply damage relationships and reputations.

Bible Verses on Gossip and Slander

Proverbs 16:28 – Spreading strife is against God

This verse warns that a gossip spreads strife and separates close friends. Gossip often reveals confidential information that should have been kept private, thus betraying trust and damaging relationships. The book of Proverbs frequently warns against gossip and the discord it brings.

As children of God, we are called to build each other up through words of encouragement, not tear each other down through gossip.

Proverbs 11:13 – Gossip reveals secrets

Gossip often involves revealing secrets or private information about someone. The Bible cautions against this, saying a trustworthy person keeps confidence instead of revealing secrets. When we gossip, we are sharing information that was told to us in confidence.

This destroys trust and hurts the person being gossiped about. As Christians, we are called to protect others by keeping their secrets and not disclosing private matters.

Proverbs 20:19 – Avoid those who gossip

This verse recommends avoiding those who gossip, because they reveal secrets and cannot be trusted. Hanging around gossips not only exposes you to private information you shouldn’t hear, but also pulls you into the cycle of gossip. The best way to stop gossip is not to participate in it.

Politely walk away or change the subject when someone tries to gossip around you. Choose friends who build others up rather than tear them down.

Ephesians 4:29 – Only speak what builds others up

Paul instructs the Ephesians to avoid unwholesome talk and only speak words that build others up. Gossip is the opposite of this, tearing people down through hurtful words and rumors. Christians are called to speak with kindness, compassion and grace.

Before repeating information about someone else, consider if it is helpful, true, inspirational and necessary. If not, it is probably gossip and best left unsaid.

James 4:11 – Speaking against another is speaking against the law

James warns that slandering or speaking against a brother or sister is equivalent to criticizing and judging the law itself. When we gossip, we set ourselves up as judges over others while nobody is perfect except God. It is the Lord’s place to judge, not ours.

Rather than look for flaws in others and run them down through gossip, we should humbly examine our own shortcomings. 

Why Gossip is Sinful According to the Bible

It breaks trust

Gossiping about someone often involves sharing sensitive information that was disclosed in confidence. When we break that trust and reveal private details without permission, we damage relationships and hurt others.

The Bible warns against betraying confidences and urges us to be trustworthy people who keep secrets (Proverbs 11:13). Spreading rumors and private facts is the opposite of “being faithful” and looking out for others’ best interests.

It harms reputations unfairly

Idle chat and groundless accusations can ruin reputations that took years to build. Gossip often includes exaggerations, half-truths, and complete falsehoods that malign someone’s character unjustly. Even if some gossip contains kernels of truth, retelling it in a negative light is slanderous.

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8). This indicates that gossip can profoundly impact its targets.

It causes strife and disunity

Gossip frequently leads to relationship conflicts, bitterness, and divisions. Proverbs 16:28 warns that “a perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” When we participate in backbiting or listening to it, we sow seeds of discord that destroy unity and harmony.

Even after making amends, hurtful rumors can linger and leave lasting scars on relationships. Wise King Solomon observed centuries ago how destructive idle talk can be, comparing it to fire that grows out of control and consumes everything in its path (Proverbs 26:20-21).

It provokes anger and vengeance

Being the subject of false accusations, negative scrutiny, and salacious gossip understandably provokes intense emotions like anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge. Scripture strongly warns against holding grudges or seeking to get even, which leads to an endless cycle of retaliation (Leviticus 19:18, Romans 12:19).

When we engage in gossip, we should remember the pain we might cause the person being targeted and how we would feel in their shoes. The golden rule that Jesus taught was to treat others as we want to be treated (Luke 6:31).

What the Bible Says About Repenting from Gossip

Ask forgiveness from God and those you’ve wronged

The Bible teaches that gossip is a sin and that we must ask God for forgiveness when we engage in it (Proverbs 6:16-19, 1 John 1:9). An important step is also to ask forgiveness from those we have wronged through our gossip. This demonstrates true repentance and helps repair damaged relationships.

We should be humble and own up to our wrongdoing.

Commit to speaking words that build others up

Rather than tearing people down with gossip, God calls us to build others up with our words (Ephesians 4:29). We can make a commitment to speak positively about others, share encouraging words, give sincere compliments, and point out the good we see in people. This creates an uplifting environment.

Be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19)

Often gossip springs from a place of presumption and quick judgment, before we have all the facts. James exhorts us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. We should listen more patiently before speaking, be wary of assumptions, and refrain from jumping to conclusions and prematurely spreading information that may not be true.

Avoid those who regularly gossip

If certain friends or acquaintances draw you into regular gossip, it may be wise to avoid spending time with them, at least for a season (Proverbs 20:19). Their unhealthy speech patterns can rub off on us. Politely turn down invitations for gossip sessions and seek out more positive friendships.

Learning to Control Your Tongue

The Bible has quite a bit to say about taming our tongues and being careful of what comes out of our mouths. As Proverbs 21:23 reminds us: “To watch over mouth and tongue is to keep out of trouble.” Let’s look at some thoughtful ways we can exercise more control over our speech.

Pray for Help in Taming Your Tongue

When we find ourselves tempted to gossip, insult, stretch the truth, or speak rashly, a heartfelt prayer can re-center our thoughts. As James 1:26 notes, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”

Bringing our speech instincts before God helps align us to righteousness.

Think Carefully Before You Speak

Many regrettable words could be avoided if we pause a moment to think through potential consequences. As Proverbs 15:28 explains: “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking.” Before airing criticisms, accusations, or hurtful language, envision how they could impact relationships and reputations.

Focus on Others’ Good Qualities, Not Their Flaws

Seeing the best – not the worst – in others curtails judgmental speech. Philippians 4:8 advises: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure.” When we actively notice people’s gifts rather than their weaknesses, appreciative words flow more naturally.

Criticism diminishes; encouragement and affirmation grow.

Find Positive Topics to Talk About

Skillfully steering conversations away from inappropriate subject matter takes wisdom and tact. As GotQuestions.org suggests, “If we are walking in the Spirit, we will not be focused on such worldly things, but on the things the Spirit desires.”

Discussing edifying ideas that build others up will inspire uplifting interactions all around (Ephesians 4:29).

Percentage of people who admit to gossiping regularly 65%
Percentage who say they’ve been victimized by workplace gossip 85%

With conscious effort and God’s help, we can tame our tongues and move discussions to a more constructive place. Let’s encourage one another in this challenging endeavor!


The Bible has strong warnings against using our words to tear others down through gossip, slander, and other negative speech. While it can be tempting to get caught up in this type of talk, Scripture reminds us of the great power of our tongues to either build up or destroy (Proverbs 18:21).

With God’s help, we can learn to control our speech and use our words in a way that honors Him.

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