Did you know that you, as the “hearer” of the gossip, may be held just as liable in God’s eyes, as the one(s) who are doing the gossiping?
As you know, the Internet reeks with gossip, people’s personal opinions, outright lies and conspiracy theories. In Hebrew, the term is called “Lashon hara” ("evil tongue") which refers to speech about a person or persons that is negative or harmful to them, even though it is true.
It is speech that damages the person(s) that are talked about either emotionally or financially, or lowers them in the estimation of others - sometimes even to the point of completely damaging their reputation.
Lashon hara is considered to be a very serious sin in the Jewish tradition. The communicator of lashon hara violates the Torah prohibition of lo telech rachil b'ameicha, translating to "thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people" (Leviticus 19:16 KJV). (Source: Wikipedia)
According to MyJewishLearning.com, the laws of lashon hara are often said to derive from two principal sources in the Torah. One is a verse in Leviticus 19:16, which prohibits talebearing, and the other is Exodus 23:1, which prohibits bearing false rumors. The verse from Leviticus refers to rechilut, or simple gossip — merely repeating information about other people, even if it’s true and even if it’s not negative.
The same verse also bars standing idly by the blood of your neighbor — essentially, failing to save someone from death. That these two prohibitions are contained in the same verse is understood to signify the seriousness with which Jewish tradition regards lashon hara!
Jewish law considers the broad category of lashon hara to be a significant sin, as it harms social cohesion and is difficult to atone for. Once such speech has been let loose in the world, it is virtually impossible to undo its damage.
Jewish law also regards both the speaker and the hearer of lashon hara as liable. (Please think long and hard about this as this is a VERY serious thing!)
There are various other commandments that one might be guilty of violating in the course of speaking lashon hara. These include the prohibition known as lifnei iver — literally, placing a stumbling block before the blind, more commonly understood as causing others to sin.
Someone who speaks lashon hara and causes the listener to transgress may also be guilty of lifnei iver. Some authorities also consider lashon hara to violate the Torah’s commandment to “remember what God did to Miriam” (Deuteronomy 24:9). This commandment is understood as referring to God striking Miriam with leprosy for having spoken ill of her brother Moses. Speaking ill of others may be a violation of this commandment as well.
Truth be told, most - if not all - of us have been guilty of either spreading, or listening to, gossip of various kinds. This is one of the many reasons Yeshua commanded us to “Take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Ephesians 4:29 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. (AENT)
Ephesians 5:4 Neither obscenities nor words of foolishness, or of division, or of falsehood, which are not useful; but instead of these, thanksgiving. (AENT)
James 1:26 And if anyone thinks that he worships Elohim and does not subdue his tongue, but his heart deceives him; his worship is desolate. (AENT)
Titus 1:16 And they profess that they know Elohim, but in their works they deny him; and they are odious and disobedient and to every good work reprobates. (AENT)
Matthew 12:34 "Generation of vipers! How are you able to speak good things, you who are evil? For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart. 35. A good man brings forth good from his good treasures, and the evil man brings evil from his evil treasure. 36. I say to you for every vain word that the sons of men speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment. 37. For by your words you will be made righteous, and by your words you will be condemned." (AENT, See also Deut. 32:21)
There is no scripture commanding us to slander others with vicious gossip. We are to "rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith" (Leviticus 19:17, Titus 1:13, 1 Timothy 5:20); we are to "warn a divisive person once, then a second time, and after that, have nothing more to do with him" (Titus 3:10); we are to "beware of" and "stand distant from" those who refuse to follow YHWH's commands (Romans 16:17-18) and we are to do the following:
2 Timothy 2:15 Do all you can to present yourself to Elohim as someone worthy of his approval, as a worker with no need to be ashamed, because he deals straightforwardly with the Word of the Truth. 16 But keep away from godless babbling, for those who engage in it will only become more ungodly, 17 and their teaching will eat away at people like gangrene. (CJB)
We are to turn godless people over to God; not become their judge and jury. Certainly, we can approach them with HIS Truth; but if they refuse, let them go and leave them alone. HE will deal with them in HIS timing! (See Matthew 12:36, 2 Peter 3:10-13, Romans 2:16, etc.) PRAY for them in hopes they will some day see YHWH's Truth; don't malign them; that's not your job!
Isaiah 55:6 Seek ADONAI while he is available, call on him while he is still nearby. 7 Let the wicked person abandon his way and the evil person his thoughts; let him return to ADONAI, and he will have mercy on him; let him return to our God, for he will freely forgive.(CJB)
People who deliberately commit gossip and run others down are NOT on God's Path; they are hypocrites, espousing God out of one side of their mouths while spewing evil out of the other. They simply get some kind of perverted joy out of putting others down!
Scripture tells us that we are in the world, but not "of it" and unfortunately, we must learn to deal with it - not like the heathens do, but according to YHWH's Torah. God's people are to be holy/set apart, "taking every thought captive".
Deliberately spreading vicious rumors about someone (whether or not there's any truth to them is irrelevant), is NOT pleasing to YHWH...in part, because we are to be His ambassadors, constantly trying to reach others for Him.