The Difference Between Gossip and Flattery

In 2 Corinthians 12:20, Paul expressed his fear that “perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.”   In 1 Timothy 5:13, he warned of those who had learned to be “idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.”

On the flipside, in Romans 16:18, Paul sounded the alarm about some who “do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”   He was carefully deliberate in reminding the Christians in Thessalonica, “we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness” (1 Thessalonians 2:5).

Clearly, gossip and flattery are off-limits for the child of God.   But what exactly is gossip?   How should flattery be defined?   And how are they different from one another?

R. Kent Hughes offers a simple clarification:

  • Gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face.
  • Flattery means saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.

Disciplines of a Godly Man, pg. 139

ht: Justin Taylor