1999-11-29 - Slander: Three Times a Killer

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the world of iniquity.

Slander is an action that far to many of us engage in. It is a triple killer. Slander does violence to the person who is slandered by perpetuating an ill report of that person. Slander violates the person who has to listen to it by allowing them to believe a lie about another. Slander contaminates the person doing the slandering with the sin of disparagement.

  1. The Person Slandered. The worthiest people are often those who are most attacked by others. Just as it is the best fruit that the birds peck at, and the choice berries and leaves that the deer prefer to feast on, so also it is often those with the best character and unblemished reputations that fools choose to sully.

  2. The Person Hearing the Slander. Slander would starve to death and die if no one gave it a hearing. Slander effects those who listen to it. It becomes a poison in their veins. It acts like a virus and contaminates the person who gets infected by it. This cannot help but happen because slander is an act of destroying the person who is slandered. There is no way to avoid being effected by slander when forced to become a part of it.

    It is best to try to avoid being a part of slander. There would be less slander in the world if there were fewer open ears to receiving it. We ought to take the attitude of Peter the Great, who, when someone would speak ill of another in his presence would interrupt and say, "Has he not a bright side? Come, tell me what have you noticed as excellent in him! It is easy to splash mud; but I would rather help a man to keep his coat clean."

  3. The Person doing the Slandering. The tongue of a slanderer is compared to poison. "But no one can tame the tongue; a restless evil full of deadly poison." James 3:8 Wherever such a tongue exists it leaves only destruction and ruin. Even that which is noble and precious can be turned, by the tongue, into something that is vile and loathsome.

The tongue of the slanderer dispenses poison so powerful that one drop can destroy. How wise the Psalmist was when he said, "I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle. While the wicked are in my presence." Psalm 39:1 In addition the writer of the Proverbs gives us wisdom regarding the tongue by saying, He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles." Proverbs 21:23

We cannot help when we are slandered. But we can resolve not to listen to slander and we can guard our hearts against becoming a slanderer. To tame the tongue is a great difficulty and there are likely to be times when we realize that we have spoken of someone in such a way that tears them down and builds us up. And that is what slander is. It is a way of making ourselves look better than we are by making someone else look worse than they truthfully are.

Slander is the result of several sins. We are either jealous of the person we slander and their good reputation, or we are angry with that person for their crystal image and we seek to shatter that perception of them. To slander is to murder a persons reputation, to covet their good name, and to lie about the truth of that person. It is therefore a violation of the sixth, ninth, and tenth commandments. Let us strive therefore to neither slander nor listen to slanderers.

Soli Deo Gloria,