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Slander: Evil Speech from Evil Thoughts


What is slander? Have we been guilty?James 3:8 says, “the tongue … is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Surely we will agree with this statement if we have ever had someone slander or lie about us. But have we ourselves ever been guilty of slander? What is slander?


All of us know that we would be slandering someone if we lied about them. Exodus 20:16 says: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”


But suppose we speak the truth. Some people think it is always wrong to speak unfavorably about someone who is not present, even if what we say is true. Yet in many passages, Jesus did this very thing. For example, in Matthew 15:14 He warned that the Pharisees were “blind guides.”


On the other hand, some people think it is all right to say anything about anyone, as long as what they say is true. Yet 1 Peter 2:23 says that, when Jesus was reviled, He did not in return revile others. He could have truly spoken evil of those people, but He did not. Why not? And how was this different from those times when He did speak evil of others?


The answer is motive. Jesus told about other people’s sins when it would be helpful to warn His disciples to avoid the influence of false teaching. But He refused to speak harmfully about other people from a feeling of personal malice or a desire for vengeance. 1 Peter 3.9 says we should not render evil for evil, nor reviling for reviling.


How then can we avoid being guilty of slander? By correcting our thoughts. If we love others and do not hold grudges, we will not be likely to maliciously slander others.


“…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12: 34-37


Click here to learn more about the Bible teaching about evil speech.


(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2019

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