There is an old anecdote which coins the concept of the “Triple Filter Test” with the acronym “TGU.” The letters are meant to remind us to ask three important questions before we speak: Is it True? Is it Good? Is it Useful? If you have ever been the subject of someone else’s gossip, you know that this premise was not implemented.
Gossip is often seen as harmless and many times even celebrated; it can be a hobby and one that feeds the feel-good chemicals in our brain–the same ones that other toxic addictive behaviors can trigger. It releases a rush of phantom inclusion and a high of personal satisfaction. Should we then all run to find the nearest victim and engage in this exercise of happy hormones? Not so fast.
Unfortunately, this concoction of euphoric body chemistry is in fact amoral and often much more toxic than the convincing feelings convey. While the momentary hit of pleasure goes to work in the brain, in its wake is a boomerang effect of consequences as the same empty and often harmful words towards others fire back as true about oneself. That’s right: what you say about someone else–whether true, good, useful…or not–has a repercussive influence on your own brain and psyche. Both hearing and speaking gossip negatively affects your mind, which will affect your thoughts towards yourself, others, and the world. In case you haven’t caught on by now: it is just not worth it.
The nature of gossip is filled with half truths and whole lies. This type of talk is rarely constructive and most always destructive. It wreaks havoc on relationships and is an enemy to unity and trust. In fact, if you want a surefire way to decrease trust levels between you and someone else, gossip about them. You will successfully dismantle even years of stored up relational integrity and confidence. Since I’m guessing that is indeed not your goal, instead I suggest the opposite. Make yourself a “no-gossip zone.” By doing so, you become a safe space for people to trust you and to know that they are loved and valued by a person who chooses to guard their heart, mind, and mouth toward you.
In short, becoming a no-gossip zone is worth it. You will store up relational equity while healing your own brain and satisfying your spirit, which was created for what is noble and pure and lovely and of good report (Philippians 4:8-9). Choose not to engage in the behavior of gossip and reap the benefits of true reward.
James 1:26, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” (NKJV)
Proverbs 20:26, “It takes fuel to have a fire—a fire dies down when you run out of fuel. So quarrels disappear when the gossip ends.” (TPT)
LIFE EXCHANGE PODCAST
Episode 01: Why We Advocate for Gossip-Free Zones
Gossip can feel good, but it is a sneaky and toxic behavior that is harmful for everyone involved. In this episode, the crew talks about why they’ve made their church a “no-gossip zone” and why making this a personal habit can benefit your life and those you influence.
Katie Stansfield is the co-host of the new podcast, Life Exchange as well as staff pastor and administrator at Giving Light in Elizabethville, PA. She is passionate about raising up healthy people so that they can live and lead well. With a practical, down-to-earth style, Katie believes in tearing down personal and societal barriers so that we can model and lead successful and healthy lives, ministries, and cultures.