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?”
Slander means to charge falsely with malicious intent, to attack the good name and reputation of another.
While it may seem obvious why the follower of Christ should avoid slander, it is still a problem that plagues the church. Several problems are caused by slander.
First, slander causes friends to fight, argue, and gossip.
Proverbs 16:28 says, “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”
I don’t know how many times I heard about something that was said about me, and I didn’t go to the person in question and clarify things. Instead, I shared something about them. This is slander. This is wrong!
Again, Proverbs 26:20 says, “Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.”
If you have not (or would not) say something to someone’s face, you don’t want to say it behind their back. We often disguise gossip and slander as something else, but that doesn’t make it right! I’ve noticed in a mud-slinging fight that everyone gets dirty, even those close but not engaged in the fight.
What are we to do? Ephesians 4:31 encourages us: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”
Second, slander is destructive.
Character assassination has destroyed men and families, as well as jobs and wealth.
Proverbs 11:9 says, “With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.”
Proverbs 18:21 reminds us, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
Growing up, I heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What trash. What a lie! Words do hurt, sometimes more than sticks and stones. Before you call me a “snowflake” and whatnot, try to think back to some of the biggest hurts in your life. My guess is that it involves betrayal by a close friend or words spoken in haste, anger, or hate.
Slander is destructive, especially if it is false. How many families have been torn apart by unfounded slander in which people made untrue accusations, spread malicious rumors, or refused to confront people personally?
How many churches have been impacted by the same? There is a reason the Bible speaks so strongly against accusations against leaders without proof.
Finally, slander is one of Satan’s character traits.
In 1 Timothy 3:11, the wives of elders and deacons must not be slanderers. The word for “slanderer” here is the same as the word “devil.” “Devil” means slanderer or false accuser.
When we are guilty of slander, we act like devils: we demonstrate that our character is like that of Satan.
Do you want your character to match up with Satan’s? I didn’t think so.
Some questions to ponder:
-Have you destroyed a friendship because of slander? What can you do to make it right?
-How has slander impacted your family? Your church?
-When someone tries to gossip to you, how should you respond?