Church Life

3 Questions to Stop Gossip in its Tracks

Continuing in the Summer School of Christ…

Gossip is a plague to the health of society, and this holds true for the body of Christ as well.

I say that gossip is a “plague” because it brings disease to the body of Christ.

Those who have gossip to spread typically have an inflated ego because of it.

Those who know or worry that they are the subject of gossip may suffer from anxiety, stress, fear and depression.

Neither of these situations is healthy, and neither portrays someone who is living by the life of Christ.

Gossip is defined as: “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”

In an outstanding article on the nature and problems of gossip, Jon Zens defines gossip this way: “Gossip is second or third hand information that someone dumps on you without your prior consent and without the consent of the person being gossiped about. Gossip can be true, partially true, or completely false. It can be motivated by good intentions, but it’s always negative personal information about another that puts them in a bad light.”

Gossip breaks the second greatest commandment to love and treat others the same way you want to be loved and treated (Matthew 22:39). I’m assuming, of course, that you don’t want to be the subject of gossip.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess at this point that we mostly agree that gossip is bad for the body of Christ.

What I want to share in this article are three questions that will stop gossip dead in its tracks.

I read this story on the good ole internet. It is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates. I have tried to verify this, but I can’t find any good reference that verifies the source of the story. However, I believe it is sound advice and worth sharing regardless.

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”


“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything, I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”


“Triple filter?”


“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test.


Is it true?

The first filter is truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”


“No,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it and…”


“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not.”


Is it good?

Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”


“No, on the contrary…”


“So,” Socrates continued, “You want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true.”


Is it useful?

You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”


“No, not really.”


“Well,” concluded Socrates, “If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

As a reminder, we are talking about gossip. I’m not referring to people who are working together with integrity and compassion to find a solution to a problem or to help someone. Gossip is without integrity or compassion.

Details related to helping someone through a problem or to overcome some sin in their life should be kept to those that are affected by the situation or are actively involved in resolving it.

When information that you have no need to know comes to you, apply these filters to avoid becoming entangled in gossip.

Follow the Life!

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3 Comment

  1. […] Click here to read the article. […]

  2. Reply
    July 28, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    That’s awesome!
    Donna recently posted…Christ As Our ViewMy Profile

  3. Reply
    Rebecca L Canfield
    October 4, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Sometimes someone thinks they have integrity because they are trying to help someone, but it is still gossip. We call these “prayer requests.” Wink. Wink. We can pray for someone privately. If praying for someone requires a retelling of their business without their permission, then it’s gossip. I know, the prayer of agreement is powerful, but so is gossip. If you cannot get permission to retell the information, then you ought not to tell it. That person may need prayer, but they also need some modicum of privacy and respect.

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