James 4:11-12: “11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
James spends a lot of time talking about the power of the tongue. Our speech has the ability to build, destroy, encourage, deflate, and more!
One misuse of our tongue is slander. We must first recognize what slander is and why it is a problem.
Slander means to charge falsely with malicious intent; to attack the good name and reputation of another. There is something sinister involved in slander. It isn’t mistakenly talking bad about someone. You intend to harm the person’s standing in the mind of another.
Proverbs 22:1 instructs us to guard our reputation: “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
Whenever we handle a person’s name — who they are in others’ minds — we are stewarding a treasure that belongs to them. If we damage a person’s reputation unjustly, we steal their good name; we are vandalizing their character. This causes real, sometimes long-lasting damage to people because restoring a devalued name is very difficult. Who knows what love, joy, counsel, comfort, and opportunities we take from people if we care for their name carelessly?
Slander is careless, derogatory, critical, slanderous accusations. Besides breathing, talking is the most common daily activity. This is not only the words we speak but also the words we type on social media, emails, and blog posts.
Slander is unwholesome speech. Slander is name-calling and spreading of lies. Like momma used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Slander affects more than the person talking and the person talked about. It impacts anybody attached to that name.
Slander is false and malicious talk about others. Gossip may selectively use information, even truth, to just chatter and talk too much. This is bad enough; slander is much worse. It plunges straight ahead, knowing full-well that the facts have been carelessly used or altered to suit the opinions and views of those sinning. Slander is listed in Mark 7:21-23 as one of those sins deep inside the human heart. It comes out of the “heart” and is “vile.” There are thirteen things listed in Mark 7 that defile a person from within. Along with sexual immorality, murder, and theft, which many of us talk a great deal about, there is slander.
What problems are caused by sinful slander? Why should we avoid it? Find out in the next blog!
Some questions to consider:
-Are you guilty of slander? What can you do to make up for it?
-Have you been slandered? Search for any truth in the accusations, repent, and then seek peace.
-What other areas of your speech do you need help cleaning up? Ask Jesus!
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash