Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
All of us have been in the presence of a talebearer at one time or another. But how to address them and those words… Oh, those words. There have been a few conversations that made me feel as if I needed to shower after it was all over.
Many would just as soon avoid the talebearer, or gossip, for more modern-day descriptions. But I have found a method that is not foolproof but helps to remove you from their radar.
When the name of someone comes up in conversation, and they are not present, we need to have the presence of mind to stop them, and ask if they should be in this conversation. Their response to that question will tell you if they are a gossip or just seeking to make things right.
A negative response is relatively obvious, but know that sometimes, they just want to process through a situation about what to do. Asking to include that one in the conversation will help to discern the intent of the communication.
If you proceed to help the process, do so with caution. Hearing the details will always provide you with a bias that can work both ways if you desire to support such a one.
The response in the positive will place you in the position of facilitator, sometimes judge, but often – referee. Choosing to hear both sides and render an opinion or a verdict takes prayer, wisdom, and Holy Spirit led counsel. Never enter into such a conversation without prayer to begin.
Knowing how to diffuse the talebearer can help to defeat any desire they have about seeking you out again for such “advice.” If all of us use such tactics, there would be no fuel for the flames of gossip to ignite, and possibly the talebearer might find that repenting of such behavior is in order.
We need to be Spirit-led in what we do, pray before, during and after, and let them know in no specific terms that we are open to hearing such things as would cast another child of God in a bad light without due recourse.