Is it a bad thing if someone asks you to keep a secret, but you, under the pressure of others, reveal the secret, thus violating the promise you made to the person? What can I say to people who, in one way or another, are upset that I don’t tell them and say, “If you don’t tell me, it means you don’t trust me”?
I assume that the question was asked by a young person or a teenager and it’s good that he asked, because, unfortunately, neither at school nor at university is there a course where you can be taught how to build and maintain healthy relationships. The wisdom of life is in the Word of God, and those who study the Bible will know it. The Timothy School was created precisely to teach adolescents and young people such wisdom and to help them build integrity. The students of this school spend their holidays building up their integrity and preparing for the work of the gospel by studying God’s Word deeply. The next session of the TIMOTEI School in the Republic of Moldova will be in Chisinau on August 13-25, 2018. For additional information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone number + (373) 69966779. The session will include the study “Someday, A Marriage Without Regrets” and “How to Be a Mentor According to God’s Will.”
Yes, it’s a bad thing to reveal other people’s secrets. Much is written in the Bible on this subject. I will not do a thorough study in this article, but I want to give a complete answer to this question.
Gossip starts when you reveal the secrets of others
The book of Proverbs of Solomon reads:
One who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
But one who is trustworthy conceals a matter. (Proverbs 11:13 NASB)
Gossip is slander, denigration, speaking badly about others. It may have some truth, but it also contains a lie and is intended to harm the person you talk about or target. You don’t intend to hurt your friend, but by exposing his hidden matters, you hatch a gossip that will then hurt him and you. There is this law in the Torah:
You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people; and you are not to jeopardize the life of your neighbor. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:16 NASB)
This law applies to those who listen in on gossip, but also to those who take it and carry it on. You don’t want to, and you shouldn’t be the one to start or spread the gossip. Beware of this, for it is a great evil. Even when you have not added anything, do not say the thing that has been entrusted to you, because it will not be good for you, nor for the one who has entrusted the secret to you, and most of the time not for the one who hears it. Don’t be fooled by the saying, “If you don’t tell me, you don’t trust me.” If he says this, then tell him that it is precisely because you want to be trusted by both the one who told you the secret and the one who wants to know it, that is why you do not tell the secrets of others, so that every man may trust you. and no one will ever lose confidence in you. And keep in mind that…
Revealing hidden things exposes your friends to danger
Don’t be naive and don’t think that words have little power or importance. What you talk about can cause a lot of damage, so be careful not to let things get in the way of your friend or friends, because
He who informs against friends for a share of the spoils,
The eyes of his children also will perish. (Job 17:5 NASB)
Be aware that if you reveal the secrets of others, your children will bear the consequences. I don’t think you want this to happen.
Avoid the company of gossips
Those who reveal hidden things always want to find out gossip, to know all the secrets about everyone. They have a sick curiosity. Beware of these people and limit your communication with them, because
One who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets;
Therefore do not associate with a gossip. (Proverbs 20:19 NASB)
By the very fact that you spend time in the company of gossipy people who can’t keep the secrets of others, you begin to take on this bad quality of theirs and you will become one of them. Gossipers will always put pressure on you to tell them what you know and don’t know, and then they’ll take your words and add their own “embellishment” until they become slanderous lies, yet still claim that they’re repeating exactly what you said. Don’t be naive and don’t be flattered and manipulated by such people, because…
A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps. (Proverbs 29:5 NASB)
Sin is the lifeblood of sinful man, and most people like to listen to gossip and gossip when they are guided by their sinful nature, as it is written.
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
And where there is no gossiper, quarreling quiets down.
Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
So is a contentious person to kindle strife.
The words of a gossiper are like dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts of the body. (Proverbs 26:20-22 NASB)
Don’t let the gossipers ignite your sinful nature to start swallowing their gossip like cakes that slide to the bottom of your gut. Beware that these “cakes” will make you sick and cause you not only stomach pain, not just for a day and not just for you.
The apostle Paul was disturbed by some widowed women who were caught in the trap of gossip and slander, and he wrote to Timothy about them:
At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also they become gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, have children, manage their households, and give the enemy no opportunity for reproach; for some have already turned away to follow Satan. (1 Timothy 5:13-15 NASB)
So always avoid the company of gossiping and slandering people, and if you find yourself there, leave.
When you are in a position to tell the secret to others
Sometimes you are in situations when you are accused of certain things or you are facing big losses and if you told someone else’s secret, you would get rid of the accusations and the damage that threatens you. Don’t be weak and don’t reveal the secret to others.
Argue your case with your neighbor,
And do not reveal the secret of another,
Or one who hears it will put you to shame,
And the evil report about you will not pass away. (Proverbs 25:9-10 NASB)
The loss or suffering you will have at that moment does not compare to the loss of your good name when you reveal the secret of your neighbor. You will not be able to have friends after this and no one will want to deal with you, because you are a man of nothing, you reveal the secrets of others and you do not care that you cause them trouble for your own good. You will be known as a cheap and useless man and no one will want to be your friend.
Examples of people who have kept the secrets of others
When Joshua sent spies to search the land of Canaan before the conquest of the land began, these men searched the land and when they were pursued, they entered the house of the prostitute Rahab to hide. Being from a holy people, this was a safer place for them to hide, for their enemies did not even think of looking for them in such a place. Arriving at Rahab’s house, the spies revealed their secret to her, told her what people they belonged to, and asked her to hide them in order to save their lives. When they left, they promised that she and her house would be spared from the destruction which all the people would be put through, but only on the condition that Rahab would not reveal them. She believed in the God of whom the Israelite spies spoke to her, and she did not reveal their secret, thus saving her and her family’s life, for the spies did as they had promised and left her and her family alive. God greatly blessed this woman, and her life was completely changed. By faith in God, she left her former life, became the wife of a leader of Israel, and even became a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. Read the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew carefully and you will be convinced of it.
When Nebuchadnezzar and his army besieged Jerusalem, Jeremiah prophesied to the people and the rulers that they would suffer complete defeat and that it was better to submit to the Chaldeans without a fight. The chiefs accused him of weakening the hearts of the people and imprisoned them, throwing him into a deep well, so that he would stay in the mud. Then an Ethiopian servant came to King Zedekiah, reported, and insisted on saving Jeremiah’s life. Zedekiah brought Jeremiah to him and asked for his advice again. At parting…
Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know about these words, and you will not die. But if the officials hear that I have talked with you and come to you and say to you, ‘Tell us now what you said to the king and what the king said to you; do not hide it from us and we will not put you to death,’ then you are to say to them, ‘I was presenting my plea before the king, not to make me return to the house of Jonathan to die there.’” Then all the officials came to Jeremiah and questioned him. So he reported to them in accordance with all these words which the king had commanded; and they stopped speaking with him, since the conversation had not been overheard. (Jeremiah 38:24-27 NASB)
Did you see that Jeremiah kept the king’s secret and did not tell the leaders what he had talked to him about? Let’s learn from this and do not reveal the secret of another.
There is another situation that we cannot ignore and that is also related to this subject.
How do you act when someone confesses their hidden sins to you?
When your friend comes to confess the hidden sins in which he lives, if you care about him you will not remain indifferent and you will not keep this secret. If you can help him get out of these sins, make every effort, but if he is powerless, pay close attention to these words of the apostle Paul:
Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well. (Galatians 6:1 NASB)
If your friend’s sin and situation are too complicated for you to help, then do not go to talk to others, but advise your friend to go to the pastor and confess his sin, so that he can receive guidance on how to get out of the situation. If the friend refuses to go to the pastor, don’t go to talk to others, but to the spiritual person who can help you know how he can get out of the situation. Don’t be fooled by the attitude or the word in which most people get caught up when they say, “We’ll solve it ourselves.” I suppose it was so in the Corinthian church when the believer there fell into the terrible sin of incest, beginning to have sexual relations with his stepmother. (1 Corinthians 5). I guess the first to suspect something was someone from his friends. What’s evil is that when they found out, none of them reported the problem to Paul, but they either told others or let the news spread about this sin, so everyone knew and discussed it, but no attitude was taken. Paul was horrified when he heard about this sin, and he had to decide on the immediate excommunication of that man, which might not have happened if his friends had intervened in time. Don’t forget that:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6 NASB)
There is a mystery that must always be revealed to anyone
The gospel of Jesus Christ has been a mystery to generations and peoples. Humans have struggled to find ways to save the soul from eternal loss, and they have invented philosophical systems and religions, but they did not succeed until God revealed this mystery at the right time. Here is what the apostle Paul says in this regard:
That is, the mystery which had been hidden from the past ages and generations, but now has been revealed to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what the wealth of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles is, the mystery that is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every person and teaching every person with all wisdom, so that we may present every person complete in Christ. For this purpose I also labor, striving according to His power which works mightily within me. (Colossians 1:26-29 NASB)
Let us make every effort to tell people about this mystery of God, that we can inherit eternal glory only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and only by following His teaching. Let us tell all people, and when we speak to them about salvation, let us not waste much time on other subjects, but let us quickly turn to the presentation of the saving person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. So help us God.
Translated by Didina Vicliuc