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.
This blog series has defined slander, examined the effects, and differentiated between slander and judging. In this final post, I’d like to discuss the implications of taking slander seriously and how we might change based upon our study.
What would your church look like if everybody obeyed the command to “no slander one another”?
I have often said that James isn’t telling us to “try harder, stupid.” We need to realize the basis for these commands. The reason we are not to slander each other is because James is instructing Christians in this passage! These are brothers and sisters in Christ.
If Christ paid the ultimate price for my sins and has extended me grace and mercy, you can bet he did the same for the person sitting next to you in church.
Why are we so critical of fellow believers? Why do we gossip and spread lies about fellow believers? There should be a spirit of love and grace in the church.
What should we do? Here are three suggestions:
1. Realize we are held accountable for every careless word. Then take action to eliminate this destructive speech and habit from your life.
Matthew 12:36-“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”
1 Peter 2:1-“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
2. Friends don’t let friends slander.
We must ask each other questions like:
- Have you shared your concern with this person directly? I’d be willing to go with you to talk to him.
- Just to be clear, is this information I should know? Do you want me to help you pursue reconciliation?
- Are you doing everything you possibly can to put away “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander?” (Ephesians 4:31)
- How can I help you guard this person’s reputation like a treasure? (Proverbs 22:1)
3. How should I respond if I’m slandered? Understand you’re in good company, and then seek reconciliation.
The Christian life is about the imitation of Christ. We are being molded into His image, so we are to strive to live as He lived. Our Lord was slandered and falsely accused of all kinds of offenses, but He did not open His mouth in protest. Instead, Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of those who were attacking Him. This is how we are called to react to our enemies and those people who think they are doing God’s will. Therefore, every false accusation, every slander, every ill word spoken about you is an opportunity for you to grow in your sanctification.
•God is still on the throne. He hates wrongdoing and will expose, destroy, and bring justice to the wrong against you if you put your trust in Him.
•Remember who you are in Christ Jesus. Don’t let the words of others create a new identity for you, your church, or your ministry. Stay who you are in Christ and how He called you, and don’t budge!
•Remember that God answers prayer. In any war, especially a gossip or slander war, you don’t need to talk a lot; you need to pray a lot. When the accusations begin to fly, one of the greatest temptations is to move the battle out of the spiritual realm and into the worldly realm by talking about it. Don’t give voice to the lies. Prayer makes God’s power available tous in any situation. You can stop slander and gossip through prayer. Your security must remain in God. God is a good God, and He will judge wrongdoing.
Bottom line: Slander is a sin; God hates sin, so don’t do it and trust God to be your defender and protector. Your responsibility is to speak life to and about people. Use your speech to encourage one another and exalt God.
Some questions to consider:
-How does it make you feel to know you are going to be held accountable for your words?
-Do you have any friends that are guilty of slander? What can you do to encourage them to repent?
-Does your church need to repent of slander against an elder or pastor?-How can you speak life instead of death?