I sat down to write this afternoon, and I realized with a little embarrassment that it has been almost a full month since I’ve written on this blog. I’ve been writing and writing off the blog, creating and teaching lessons for my Community Bible Study class (on Genesis 15-18) and preparing to teach a lesson series in our KidzChurch on the Sermon on the Mount. Unfortunately, as exciting and wonderful as it is to able to offer up my lessons in my classes, it limits my time write for the blog.
I’ve been in the middle of writing a series on Psalm 15 and one on systematic theology. I’m going to pick up the threads of where I was in Genesis 15 first, and share about it and a lot of other things going forward. When my blog is silent, just remember to pray for me because I’m in a time of more intense teaching when that happens.
Let’s begin again with our mini diversion from the path of Psalm 15 to consider slander. I’ll link to the previous posts I’ve written on slander below.
We have seen what causes slander. We have seen specific commands given to the saints concerning slander. Now, it’s time to take a look at the effects that slander has on us.
The first thing we should remember about slander is that it causes anger. I know that if I feel misunderstood or misrepresented that I feel angry. As a mom, I have seen how quickly my children turn to wrath when they feel that they are being misunderstood or that I am mischaracterizing their actions. I have also noticed that when I see that anger at misrepresentation on the face of my children that I am driven to stop and get it right. It reminds me that Proverbs 25:23 says:
The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
We should be angry when we hear someone being slandered. We should be angry when we hear someone misrepresented. We should be angry when we only hear one side of a story and are asked to condemn the people on the other side. All these are ways we backbite each other, and those ways should be condemned.
Let’s attempt to get it right. The effects of slander are just too great.
The first effect of slander is that is separates friends. If you are feeling hurt by a tale you have heard about a friend, reach out directly to that friend. Don’t let someone else’s story about your friend separate you. Proverbs 16:28 says:
A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
If you’re not convinced by that verse, perhaps Proverbs 17:9 would help. It says:
Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
Love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). A question we should ask ourselves when we have heard a rumor or been hurt by the actions of a friend is whether or not we can just love enough to carry on in our relationship. Sometimes a fault needs confrontation. Other times it just needs forgiveness and covering with our love.
If someone is repeating rumors and telling stories, they often want to cause that kind of division between friends. There are many motivations for this kind of slander, and we may not even realize our motivations when we spread rumors. No matter what the motivation, just do not spread tales.
Not only does slander separate friends, but it also causes deadly wounds. Proverbs 18:6 says:
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.
Proverbs 26:22 says:
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
There is not much that’s more hurtful than hearing rumors that question your friend’s motivations. There’s not much that is more hurtful than hearing just one side of a story. The wounds are deep, and sometimes lifelong.
Another effect of slander is to cause strife. Proverbs 26:20 says:
Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
Every time a tale is spread or a story is told or something is gossiped about, there is strife, division and unhappiness. Hearing the words of someone else can cause a division between us and a friend and keep us angry at a friend that has transgressed against us.
It keeps us angry, and it can lead to arguing and division in our relationships with others. All because we stopped to listen to someone who gossiped.
This strife from slander also causes discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:19 says:
A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Two of the most painful experiences in my year this year involved catching people that I love in lies. When this happens, there’s an undeniable break in relationship, a loss of trust, and just a clashing disagreement. That’s what discord is. It’s a disagreement that results in angry people, and although not always caused by lies, lies and slander can be a huge contributor to discord. Slander can also be a result of discord. The two seem to breed each other.
Another result of slander can be murder. Psalm 31:3 says:
For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.
Of course, that can be literal murder. But it doesn’t have to be Matthew 5:21-22 say:
Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Here Jesus is putting anger and murder on the same level. That’s something that will make you go “Ouch!” when you think about it.
So, there you have it. My glance through the Bible for the results in our lives of slander. The next post in this series that I’ll be sharing will be a quick post on a couple of things that the Bible says about the tongue, and then we’ll head back to Psalm 15:3 to discover what else a righteous man does not do.