Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #44 I've Got a Secret

February 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs with Liz Curtis Higgs

You’re hanging out with friends. Sharing a meal, sharing your lives. Someone’s name comes up. Someone who isn’t there.

A comment is made. “Have you seen ___?” Then another. “Well, I heard ___.”

Heads turn in your direction. Seems you know the person they’re talking about better than anyone else at the table.

What happens next depends on how willing we are to honor this week’s verse and the One who wrote it.

This isn’t about heaping guilt on our shoulders, beloved.
This is about God setting us free from the sin that binds us.

A gossip betrays a confidence,
    but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. Proverbs 11:13

Gossip Girls on a Snowy Day

A gossip…

We often think of “gossip” as a verb—something we do. But here it’s a noun—something we are. The kind of person who “can’t keep secrets” (NCV), who likes to “talk about others” (NIRV) and is “always telling stories” (NLV).

If pride is the root of every sin, then gossip is a prime example. Pride prompts us to say, “I know something you don’t know,” often fueled by a desperate need for attention. Look at me. Listen to me. I know a secret. I must be special.

Brimming with a juicy story or surprising discovery, a “gadabout gossip” (MSG) can’t sit still. She (or he) “walketh deceitfully” (DRA) and “goeth guilefully” (WYC), putting not only her mouth in motion, but also her feet. Even in the computer age, gossips are more likely to spill the beans in person, rather than risk a cyber trail. An email or text is easily traced, but murmured words are lost to the winds.

A Secret Revealed

…betrays a confidence,…

And what a cruel betrayal it is, when a gossip “gives away” (GW) the truth or “makes secrets known” (NLV). How many friendships have been destroyed, marriages torn apart, or businesses ruined by an idle word, a whispered rumor, a secret that’s no longer a secret?

For some of us, this sort of behavior isn’t even a temptation, let alone a common practice. We wouldn’t dream of wounding a friend or betraying another’s trust. When we promise, “Your secret is safe with me,” we mean it. If you beg us, “Don’t tell anyone,” we don’t.

Others among us are uncomfortable even reading this verse in Proverbs. Frankly, we love confiding in others or passing along something we’ve heard. We don’t consider ourselves heartless or thoughtless—just curious and gregarious. What we see, we share. What we discover, we uncover.

Only you (and the Lord) know which description fits you. Sadly, I fall in both camps: totally zip-lipped with the big stuff that truly matters, less careful with the small stuff that seems insignificant but really isn’t.

For those of us who walk in victory, glory to God.
For those of us who struggle, a heartfelt prayer.

Heavenly Father, we don’t want to be gossips. We don’t want to be that person who can’t be trusted. Please show us what to do, then empower us to do it. Lock our lips, Lord, and set us free.

Keeping Secrets

…but a trustworthy person…

This is what we all long to be, every one of us. A “true friend” (CEV) with a “faithful heart” (GNV). A “reliable person” (VOICE) and “someone of integrity” (MSG).

The Hebrew word here, aman, means “confirm, support.” That’s the job of every believer: to build up, rather than tear down; to stand beside, not stand in the way.

Even if being a gossip is deeply ingrained in our nature, God is able to change us through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, “trustworthy in spirit” (NRSV) gives us a better sense of the Hebrew word in this verse, ruach, meaning “breath, wind, spirit.”

The Holy Spirit provides the strength we need. He gently convicts and thoroughly cleanses. He stirs up edifying words we can (and should) share, and puts a lid on the private confidences meant for our ears alone.

Put a Lid on It

…keeps a secret.

Thanks to the Spirit’s power, we can become a true friend who “conceals the matter” (JUB) and “won’t violate a confidence” (MSG). Those secrets entrusted to us won’t boil over, even when the heat is turned up, because of the Lord’s strength bubbling inside us, and not our own.

Since the Hebrew word, kasah, means “to cover,” I’ve found an easy, practical way to remind myself of this week’s wisdom from Proverbs. Whenever I see a lid—from the stainless steel lids on my cooking pots to the wooden lid on a storage chest—I’ll remember God wants those secrets to remain “covered” (ESV), safely hidden in my heart.

A gossip betrays a confidence,
    but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. Proverbs 11:13

Another Reminder

Now it’s your turn

  • What has the Lord shown you as we unpacked Proverbs 11:13?

Share your thoughts via Post a Comment below. We’re eager to learn from you, as well as encourage you.

Here’s your Printable of Proverbs 11:13, with four copies of the verse on a single page, ready to cut apart and hang…oh, maybe with your pots and pans (smile).

And check out our weekly pins on Pinterest:

Proverbs 11:13 on PinterestProverbs 12:15 on PinterestProverbs 11:2 on Pinterest

Next Wednesday? The perfect verse for marching into March!

Your grateful sister, Liz
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs

Your Sister, Liz Curtis HiggsBible Gateway Blogger Grid MemberFebruary 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs with Liz Curtis Higgs

P.S. Imagine if Mary Magdalene lived in modern Chicago—that’s Mercy Like Sunlight, a contemporary, fictional spin on Mary M.’s biblical story. This novella first appeared in 2001 as the opening half of my nonfiction book Mad Mary, later titled Unveiling Mary Magdalene. Perhaps you’ve already read it? If not, Mary Margaret Delaney’s touching journey toward redemption awaits you on ebook March 18. Fiction lovers can pre-order it now for your Kindle, Nook, and other ereader devices.

Mercy Like Sunlight | March 18

38 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #44 I've Got a Secret

  1. Gwen February 26, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    The struggle I have with this verse is that I don’t “share” maliciously…I just sometimes forget that what was told me was told in confidence. I’ve started giving a disclaimer that you may not want to tell me that because I sometimes have a big mouth. With the Lord’s help, I am getting better though.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 26, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      Hooray for getting better, Gwen! What is an issue for some is a non-issue for others, but we ALL have our stumbling blocks. Praise God for his patience, mercy, and grace!

  2. K February 26, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Well, when I read the first sentences, I came out of my seat! Never, ever, repeat something in confidence. In my younger life when I would see the hurt and distruction that would be shared when something was told in confidence-I would want to punch out the guilty one! Now that I’ve matured ( thank you Jesus) I really don’t have a problem stopping gossip in its tracks. I do not like to see anyone hurt, I learned from experience a long time ago what that feels like. If I can head off that pain for someone I will. I know women need to confide in each other, but not at a cost. Whew, off my soapbox I come. Hehehe. I want to be known as a woman that can be trusted -trustworthy.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 26, 2014 at 10:50 am #

      Your soapbox is always welcome here, my dear. I think most of us know in our hearts and minds that we should never repeat something shared in confidence. It’s living out that knowledge that can be challenging. As the apostle Paul wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). Right. That.

  3. susan hardison February 26, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    19 months ago, at the age of 58, God gloriously saved my soul. I have been amazed at how my ‘insides’ (my heart and brain) have undergone such an incredible transformation. It is so much easier for me to keep my mouth shut now that I live to honor and glorify Him. I have learned that I can love others, and because of my love for them, I don’t want to share what I’ve been told. I am daily overwhelmed at His kindness and goodness towards me. We serve the amazing God who loves us all equally.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 26, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      Welcome to the family, Susan! Love is truly the best motivation for doing any good thing. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

  4. Regina February 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    One statement you made really jumped out to me: “Sadly, I fall in both camps: totally zip-lipped with the big stuff that truly matters, less careful with the small stuff that seems insignificant but really isn’t.”

    That hit a little close to home.

    I’ve had to play confidant and secret keeper quite a lot in my life. I always take that position seriously and wouldn’t dream of betraying that confidence.

    But how often to I misjudge the sensitivity of a small thing and betray a confidence without realizing the treasure of the information I was holding?

    Little stuff that’s not little. Those little glimpses of deeper issues or vulnerabilities that we’re not ready to lay bare, but we allow to peek through in interactions we have with people we think we can trust…with everything big and small.

    I’ve been on the receiving side of that. And it hurts. It makes you feel small and exposed and wondering, “I wonder what else they say about me when I’m not around.”

    Today I’m challenged to keep an eye on my idle words, to abstain from whispered rumors, and to keep the secrets entrusted to my care.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

      So appreciate your careful reading, Regina, and the way you’ve allowed God to reshape your thinking. Our words truly matter.

  5. jaime February 26, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Like everyone else, this really hit home. I too am in both camps, try as I might. Instead of trying I should be praying. I don’t have a computer or printer so I’m doing this via smartphone. Since I can’t take advantage of the print ables, I text message myself every week. I then look at my texts all the time and forward them to others who need to hear. These are secrets that need to be shared. Its not gossip if its God’s Word!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

      Oh, Jaime, I love how you text each week’s verse to yourself—brilliant!—then forward them to others. Well done. And this is a truly quoatable quote: “It’s not gossip if it’s God’s Word!”

  6. Cherrie:) February 26, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Sometimes I get the two mixed up be between prayer requests and should I really say something? Sometimes I mess up and other times I still silent.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

      I didn’t mention prayer requests, but we all know how THAT works. Oh me. Please be patient with us, Lord.

  7. Cynthia February 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    This may be one of the best proverbs ever. “A slip of the tongue” can cause great damage. It can hurt the person you are talking about by betraying their confidence. It can also hurt you because people won’t fill they can trust you and you my lose friendships.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

      You’ve assessed the problem with gossip perfectly, Cynthia. Pain, either way.

  8. Elaine Steil February 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Liz, Years ago I had the opportunity to have a Pastor teach a Bible Study with all women. When we requested prayers for someone, he always reminded us that this request was a form of sharing and caring and not gossiping. We have to be careful even when we think our intentions are good. Thank you for always teaching and encouraging.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

      A real-life wise man, your pastor! Thanks for sharing, Elaine.

  9. Susan Ireland February 26, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    Well I noticed a change between my daughters, drastic change toward me ? so after much prayer I hinting around I ask them each individually what was wrong, is it something I have done or said ? nothing just busy they say– my advice was to leave them alone , pray , let God handle , the truth would come out ? what is your opinion ?

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

      I agree, Susan: wait, pray, and trust God’s timing. Perhaps by now some truth has surfaced. Joining you in prayer tonight.

  10. ranjana February 27, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    Yes!!!!! This article spoke volumes to me ..Needs a Big Transformation in zip -locking my mouth..Though many times i think not to say a word ,,the flesh comes out …In the initial stages of walk with my God siplocking was easy as there was Fear of the Lord ..but now its taken for granted as i feel at times this is my weakness God Knows..but Holy Spirit Convicts me manytimes……
    Thank You Thank You Thank You for writing this….

  11. Cathy Gross February 27, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    James talks about the “tongue” and how dangerous it can be. Talking is like dieting, you have to eat and talking is our major communication tool. The trick is self-discipline. I fall short on both counts. Longing to hear His voice and then listening and obeying are the answers.
    Gossip destroys as surely was a violent storm blowing through the neighborhood.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

      I’m beginning to wonder if taping our lips shut wouldn’t solve BOTH problems! :>) But we do need to eat and breathe, and our mouths can also share the gospel, encourage a friend, kiss a loved one, smile at a stranger. Help us, Lord, focus on doing those good things!

  12. Linda H February 27, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    Whenever I have shared something I shouldn’t have it has always hurt not only that person, but my integrity as well. My mom thrives on gossip onky to be able to tell others to look as if she is in the “know”. It has made me extremely sensitive to gossip. As a mother of three adult children, it has become such a privilege to be their sounding board because they know their secrets are safe with me. God’s word still continues to amaze me daily. Everything we need is in His word!! Thank you for Liz for pointing us in the right direction even when it shines a light on those places we don’t want anyone to see.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      What a blessing to have your children trust you! You’ve set a good example for them (and for us) as well.

  13. Janey Hollingsworth February 27, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Thank you, always, for dividing the Word of truth, Liz! I use to share prayer request- honestly wanting the person lifted up in our prayers, but shared to much detail! As God convicted me of gossiping, I found a verse to help me in this area! Psalms 141:3 ” set a guard over my mouth, o Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” The Holy Spirit can give me a kick before talking to much the next time!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

      Such an apt Psalm, Janey. Thanks for sharing so honestly with us. You are not alone. “Set a guard over our mouths, O Lord!”

  14. Tammy February 27, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    I have been blessed to not have a struggle in this area. People like a good story, but it should not be at the expense of others. I have been greatly hurt by gossip, only by the grace of God did I find healing. It was at the hands of people who were Christians, however their hearts were not in the right place. I was a new Christian and got to see hypocrisy at its finest within the doors of my old church. No one came to me for the truth, no one wanted to talk face-to-face, just behind my back……over the years God revealed the truth to those who were blind to it, not that it mattered, I stood on God’s faithful promises and knew He would not forsake me. Whether it is repeating a truth or stirring up trouble through a mixture of truth and lies we have a great responsibility to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ with loving care. Lord knows I have other struggles, but I realized how blessed I was not to have this one when a girl I worked with(and happened to attend my old church)) approached me and asked how I could be in the hair business and not be a gossip…. : ). Prayers to those who struggle with this, and prayers appreciated for those of us with struggles other than this.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

      Tammy, I really appreciate you helping us all see what gossip looks like on the other side. Very humbling, even heartbreaking, to think of whom we might have hurt with our words, however unintentionally. Thank you, dear sister.

  15. joanna mclaughlin February 27, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    I once was accused of malicious gossiping. And believe me that will turn you around. It took a long time, but truth was revealed. But, ever sense then I have really kept a watch over my mouth. This was traumatic for me and lost and regained friends in the whole process. It was a great lesson to me, how horrible gossip can be and the damage it can cause.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

      Joanna, I cannot applaud your courage enough. Just as Tammy shared things from her experience of being gossiped about, you’ve bravely shared what it’s like to be accused of being a gossip. Your lesson, however difficult, has clearly moved your forward in your faith. Bless you, sis.

  16. Holly Dame February 27, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    I am like you, Liz. I tend to keep the Big secrets to myself, but then sometimes may talk about things that seem small to me, but probably aren’t to the dear sister who trusted me. The image of the cast iron lidded pot over the fire really struck me. I must not let me mind “boil over” with gossip, but pray, pray, pray, before I speak. Only God can get me under His divine control! I have begun sharing a lot with my 11-year old daughter who is in middle school this year. We haven’t let her have a cell phone yet, but her friends are always having some drama with texting. It almost always starts with some gossip that got started. I am using my own mistakes to point her heavenward. I am blessed, though, because she really hates whining and cat fighting among her friends. PTL!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

      When I saw that pot photo, I jumped on it! I’m a visual learner, and that picture is sticking with me too. Please, Lord, don’t let us flip our lids! And how wonderful that your daughter is already wise enough to see why gossip isn’t a good idea.

  17. Blanche February 28, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    As a counselor of children, gossip was one of the problems we dealt with so often.
    This proverb always came to mind. I try very hard to avoid gossip, but It’s not always easy. Praise God that He can help me hold my tongue, and can forgive when I fail.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 4, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

      So right, Blanche. We would ALL be lost without God’s forgiveness.

  18. Susan Gruener February 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Oh this was a great reminder to learn to be discreet on what our friends or family has told us. I let something ‘slip out’ once, and I felt like such a betrayer, even though I was talking to a trusted family member. As soon as the words were out, I remembered her words “don’t tell anyone”… Nothing became of it, but it wounded me, because I take pride in being a person you can trust and tell anything to, “and it will stay with me”. I believe the more we ‘practice’ being discreet, the easier it is. The Lord put these words in the Bible for a purpose! He wants us to be trustworthy. And I believe we all do too! 🙂
    Thanks Liz! This was good!

  19. Christine March 2, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    This is a message I need to hear daily. Thank-you.