Proverbs 11:13

ESV Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
NIV A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
NASB One who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, But one who is trustworthy conceals a matter.
CSB A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.
NLT A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.
KJV A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

What does Proverbs 11:13 mean?

Scripture forcefully condemns gossip. A person who has been told a secret in confidence, but breaks that confidence by sharing the secret with others, is a gossip. So is the person who passes along information which is not theirs to share, or which they have no personal knowledge of. The Bible does not suggest there is never a time to share information—pastors and other counselors must sometimes share "secrets" in cases of abuse. However, they are also responsible for keeping the confidence of those they counsel in most cases.

Jeremiah condemns gossip by writing: "They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land…Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer" (Jeremiah 9:3–4). Romans 1:29 includes gossips in a list of those whose minds are debased, and Paul insists in 1 Timothy 3:11 that the wife of a deacon must not be a gossip.

The apostle James goes so far as to say. "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless" (James 1:26).

Unlike a gossip who fails to keep a secret is the person who "keeps a thing covered" (Proverbs 11:13). He is described in verse 11 as "trustworthy in spirit." The best response to hearing scandalous, embarrassing, or personal information about others is to keep it to ourselves.
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