Some sins are tiny. They barely even register on Christian radar. Take gossip, for instance. Compared with the big sins—adultery, stealing, cursing, violence—gossip is no big deal.
The only little thing wrong with gossip is that it destroys friendship. Solomon says that “a whisperer separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28). Of course, disclosing an offender’s faults is sometimes necessary. It may facilitate the healing that counseling provides, enable the elders to confront sin in the church, protect innocent people from injury, or even bring criminals to justice. Gossip is different. A whisperer spreads slimy news to entertain himself, portray himself as superior to the gossip subject, or damage reputations. The guilty feelings caused by gossip combine with the wounds of the injured party to ruin even the closest friendships. But gossip is no big deal, right?
The only little thing wrong with gossip is that it tears the church apart. Paul says that “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another” (Gal. 5:14-15). Backbiting is cannibalism. The “juice” in juicy church gossip is the congregation’s lifeblood. But gossip is no big deal, right?
The only little thing wrong with gossip is that it invites God’s anger and brings an eternal curse. In his letter to the Romans, Paul lists quite a number of things that merit death: unrighteousness, evil, greed, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, meanness, gossip, slander, hatred of God, insolence, haughtiness, boastfulness, invention of evil, disobedience to parents, folly, faithlessness, heartlessness, and ruthlessness (1:29-31). Twenty-one things that God hates. And did you notice the two items in the middle of the list – gossip and slander? But gossip is no big deal, right?