20 Without wood a fire goes out;
without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.
My KJV translates the word "gossip" in these verses, as "talebearer." That conjures up a vivid image of a person who is busily moving from set of ears to another, carrying a tale that they want to tell. It may be something very private that someone confided in them. It may be a secret that will devastate the person when it becomes widely known.
Does the talebearer care?
They are happiest when they are proving to themselves just how important they are, and how knowledgeable, because they know something that their hearer does NOT know, and they are puffed up with pride to be able to tell the story. You see, they justify their activities by telling themselves that what they are spreading around is true.
And, in reality, a talebearer is different than a false witness. A false witness is spreading lies. A talebearer is spreading things that you told them in private --- that you didn't want anyone else to know. They may even be telling things about you, that you had no idea they were aware of!
Proverbs 11:13 told us, "A talebearer reveals secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter."
But a talebearer or gossip can't keep the fire going if you remove the fuel . . . How do you remove the fuel? Refuse to listen to them. You can let them know by your body language, your facial expressions, and your words, that you are not going to play that game --- that you find their gossip distasteful and a waste of time. Christians should discuss confidences from other Christians only with them, in private, and with a good dose of prayer!
Now, you will need to be aware of one thing --- when you tell the talebearer that you don't want to participate in their sin, and that you won't listen, you may then become one of their victims. They may begin to tell tales about you.
But, refusing to listen to them will show everyone that you are more interested in keeping your testimony clean, than in hearing the latest dirt.