By Brother Michel Lankford
Question: Is asking about someone out of curiosity still gossip and still a sin?
Everything first hinges upon answering the “WHAT,” the “WHY,” and the “HOW,” of any situation.
- What information are you seeking?
- Why are you seeking this information?
- Why do you need to know this?
- How are you planning to function and use this information once you have it?
- How has your past track record been? How do you typically function with the information that you possess?
It is the true answer to those questions that ultimately determine whether or not you are sinning.
First, always make sure that when you are asking about an issue of theological importance, (such as, “is this a sin?“); You are ALWAYS defining your key terms the same way that God defines things in His Word. Remember, changing God’s Definitions for things is a sin, for certain (Isaiah 5:20-24). Since this is a question precisely dealing with virtue, the ONLY definition that truly counts is God’s and no one else’s, because He is the Judge (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Psalm 96:10; 1 Peter 4:5; Revelation 20:12). The bottom line is that if our opinions don’t agree with God’s opinions, what we think doesn’t count for crap. That is the truth of the matter.
When it comes to your specific question, you must also ask some follow-up questions before you decide if you are being a virtuous person who is curious, or a sinful busybody and a gossip.
- What is the basic situation you are curious about? Could having extra information here force you to disobey a Commandment given by God? Disobeying a direct Commandment given by God or Messiah is what it means to sin (1 John 3:4; Hosea 8:1; Daniel 9:11; Isaiah 5:20-24).
- Before you pursue it, ask God to reveal your heart to you (Jeremiah 17:9). WHY are you curious? What is the PURPOSE of your having this information? This question is based on a “Kingdom Standard.” In God’s Kingdom, absolutely EVERYTHING hinges and depends upon HOW it FUNCTIONS.
“Is this Truly a ‘GOOD’ Thing?”
a. What is God’s intent and purpose for this person or thing when He created it?
b. Is this person or thing FUNCTIONING and or WORKING as God designed it?
c. Is this person or thing producing the FRUIT or the RESULTS that God intended?
Those three criteria are the Bible’s Definition of the word “GOOD.” If the true answer to the three above questions is “YES,” then it is a “GOOD” thing. If however, the true answer is “NO,” then it is NOT truly a “GOOD” thing by definition.
Now, when God created you, He created you with curiosity. He did that with the PURPOSE so that you could hunger to gain information, and then use that information to be a blessing to others and to yourself. Therefore, HOW you USE your curiosity, will make ALL of the difference as to whether or not you are sinning. Are you USING your curiosity the way that God intended when He created you with that curiosity? Are you curious because you sincerely want to learn what’s going on, and use that information to be a blessing and to help, as God intended? That would be righteous. That would be “GOOD,” because you would legitimately be USING and FUNCTIONING in your curiosity in the manner that God designed you to function.
OR, are you hungry and curious to know this information so that you can feel superior that you know things and secrets that others don’t know? Are you hungry and curious to know these things so that you can use this information to talk about other people and their problems? Are you using discussing other people’s problems as a way to put off dealing with and overcoming your own problems, and to delay overcoming your own issues? Are you being a nosy busybody? All of those motives and functions WOULD be SIN BECAUSE God DIDN’T give you your curiosity to FUNCTION in that manner. You would be misusing your curiosity to VIOLATE Kingdom Standards (Psalm 15). That is, “NOT GOOD,” by definition. That would be SIN.
So, the follow-up questions must be asked with God’s definitions clearly in our sights.
The Bible says to flee temptation (2 Timothy 2:22-24). Am I fleeing temptation or feeding temptation here? Why do I want this information? What is my intent and purpose for seeking and gaining this information? Am I seeking to gain this information so I can truly be a help and a blessing, as God intended? Or, am I seeking this information to gratify my sinful passions, and to be a nosy busybody who talks about other people? The answers will make all the difference in the world.
How will having this information truly help me, or help other people to succeed? “Do I NEED to know this to help me grow, or to help other people succeed? If the answer is no, then you are better off not seeking to know that information.
Check your past fruit: Once I have this information, how do I intend and plan to use it? What’s my past track record been like? Do I have a track record of using my curiosity for doing “GOOD”? Or have I often used my curiosity in the past to feed my sinful nature, and to violate Kingdom Standards (Psalm 15)? Have I often used my curiosity as God intended and produce Kingdom results with it, or have I routinely used my God-given curiosity to be a slanderer, and busybody and to gossip? Jesus said that you will know which is true by your fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). So, check your past fruit. What kind of RESULTS or FRUIT have you produced with your curiosity in the past? Do you have a track record of doing what is good with your curiosity, or do you have a track record of sinning with your curiosity? That too makes a difference.
I do hope that this information helps you.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Brother Michel Lankford