Do you sometimes wonder—in conversations with others—when it’s okay to share information about another person, and when it’s not? It’s a question that needs to be asked by any genuine follower of Christ, since authentic love for him translates into a high value on every person we meet.
I came across a helpful piece by Kevin Miller, titled, Is This Gossip? 9 questions to help you decide. He lists some great questions to ask yourself before you share information with others:
1. Am I telling this to someone who can do something about the problem by helping the person or offering discipline or correction?
2. If not, am I telling this to someone who is wise enough to help me sort out my feelings and courageous enough to make me do the right thing: to confront the person or to confess where I was at fault?
3. Is this news approved for sharing?
4. Am I breaking a confidence? If so, is it only because the person is endangering someone's life, including his or her own?
5. Am I willing to say from whom I got this information so the information can be checked for accuracy?
6. When I say this, does it break my heart?
7. Have I taken the time to examine my life and confess to God how I also sin like that?
8. Am I praying for the person?
9. Would I feel comfortable if someone were saying this about me?
It’s not always clear-cut, but these questions can give us a starting point and help us to pause before saying more than we should. We do well to keep in mind the goal we’re given in Scripture: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
That’s a great reminder for us to choose our words wisely!