Jesus was a master at avoiding gossip (malicious talk). We can learn from his example. Once Jesus’ disciples found him talking to a Samaritan woman. “Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?'” (John 4:27, NIV) (The Jews despised Samaritans, and women were not highly regarded at that time. This particular woman also had a bad reputation.)
As I read this passage, it struck me that there was something about Jesus’ presence that silenced anything negative the disciples may have said about her. I want Jesus’ presence to be so strong in me that people won’t want to say negative things about others to me.
Jesus didn’t reprimand the woman for her sin, but instead, subtly led her to a confession and then simply said, “What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4:18, NIV) He simply acknowledged her confession.
He also spoke to her privately, so as not to embarrass her and so her attention wouldn’t be diverted. Again, I see that love protects.
When I’m tempted to say something negative about one person to another, a good question to ask myself is: Would I say this if the person were standing beside me? If the answer’s no, then its best to keep quiet.
NOTE: This article is addressing malicious talk. There may be times when you need to seek a counselor about someone in your life for purposes of getting help for yourself or for them.