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Published on August 9th, 2006 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Do Hard Things: Don’t Gossip




No, our modern-day hero John Piper doesn’t read The Rebelution. But his latest edition of Fresh Words is an unmistakable exhortation for Christians to “do hard things” in the area of gossip. We encourage all of you to read it and take it to heart.

Talking to People Rather Than about Them
by John Piper

You recall that in Luke 18:9, Luke introduces the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector like this: “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” [N]otice that it says that Jesus told this parable TO some [who] trusted in themselves that they were righteous. It does not say he spoke this parable ABOUT them. Jesus was looking the Pharisees in the eye and telling them a parable that implied that they were self-righteous. He was not talking about them but to them.

It is easy—and far too tasty on the tongue of our sinful souls—to talk about people. But it is hard—and often tastes bitter—to talk to them.

Though it may seem minor, it contains a lesson that is huge for the health of our church. Let’s be like this. Let’s not talk to others about people’s faults. Let’s talk to them about their faults. It is easy—and far too tasty on the tongue of our sinful souls—to talk about people. But it is hard—and often tastes bitter—to talk to them. When you are talking about them, they can’t correct you or turn the tables and make you the problem. But if you talk to them about a problem, it can be very painful. So it feels safer to talk about people rather than talking to them.

Jesus does not call us to make safe choices. He calls us to make loving choices.

But Jesus does not call us to make safe choices. He calls us to make loving choices. In the short run, love is often more painful than self-protecting conflict-avoidance. But in the long run, our consciences condemn us for this easy path and we do little good for others.

So let’s be more like Jesus in this case and not talk about people, but talk to them, both with words of encouragement, because of the evidences of grace we see in their lives, and with words of caution or warning or correction or even rebuke.

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About the Author

are the co-founders of TheRebelution.com and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.



  • Lizzie: It’s so good to hear from you! Last I heard, you were graduating. Congratulations.

    I definitely agree with you on the “gossiping through prayer requests” aspect. Brett’s and my experience has been that gossiping (or “fishing” for gossip) can take many seemingly innocent shapes and forms.

    As to the differences between the two types of prayer requests (non-gossip and gossip), I agree with you on the distinction. I believe it is primarily a matter of the heart. Our motives are very important. Are we truly just asking for prayer? Or are we seeking to spread juicy information or gain people to “our side”? At the same time, even if it’s not our intention, giving unnecessary details can still serve to spread gossip, regardless of our motives.

    How do you think that Jesus’ words in Luke 6:45 apply to gossip? That’s where He teaches that “out of the abundance of the heart [our] mouth speaks.” Do you think that means that even being careless with our words is a sign that our heart isn’t in the right place?

  • Lizzie

    I logged onto your blog tonight for the first time in months and was pleasantly surprised to see that your message hasn’t changed much.

    As Piper said, gossip can be a very enjoyable and cruel pastime, while if it really bothered us then we would take our concerns to the actual person. I dont know about you, but it seems that sometimes our prayer requests can become an outlet for gossiping in the name of asking you to pray for me because so and so did this Ive always thought a couple of differences between the two are your motive and the details of the request. What do you think?

  • “Do hard things!” My mom has read your stuff and she said that’s a good motto to have. She also had us read article and watch the video recommend by Mrs. Friedrich’s blog http://buriedtreasurebooks.com/weblog/?p=1621

    John Piper is our families favorite too! This is a good article.

  • That’s a great reminder on gossip. Sometimes, we often talk about people instead of talking to them, thus leaving everything unsolved if there are any problems.
    Thanks for the post! :)

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  • Omar Bejarano

    This blog is awesome. I’ve marked as one of my favorites immediately. I’ll share all of this with my beautiful wife and daughters. Some times we can be the target of gossip but most of the times we target on others. Thanks for reminding how tow to behave according to the scriptures.

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