1. A month ago I received a final copy of the audited financial statements for the Regional Synod of Canada. We had met with the auditors before and we had agreed on certain changes to their first draft. I called the auditors to thank them for the work they had done. After I hung up I took a quick look and within a minute I discovered three mistakes they had made. I called back to point out the errors and they agreed to redo the statements.
2. Partly because of my accounting background, I am able to quickly see what is wrong in reports and statements. Perhaps this is a gift but I’m afraid that there’s more to it than that. For I believe it also is reflective of something that I do not like about myself. For I have a critical nature, perhaps a critical spirit, that leads me to see the wrong or mistakes in others and what they do.
3. My son, when younger, could do an excellent job in cutting the lawn, but immediately I would see the one blade of grass that he missed and point it out to him. Someone may have spent days doing a project, and I would find it natural to zero in on the weakness or mistakes in their work.
4. Sometimes I feel this is a curse, sometimes a blessing. But what is important is what I do with this ability or disability. For it is easy to share my criticisms with others.
5. I struggle at times with the exhortation of Paul:
Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
6. I believe this is a problem for most of us. I often hear people speaking critically about others. It may the hardest sin for us to control. In fact sometimes we may even excuse this sin as not being that bad, what real harm does it do.
7. This evening we consider the sin of slander and why this is such a horrendous sin.
1. James says - do not slander one another. When we think of slander we think of gross charges against another person. But the Greek verb here is a broader term. To slander is to make false charges or misrepresentations that damage a person’s reputation. But the term here means to any form of speaking against a person. What we say may be true or false. But it is a sin if:
a. It is said in an unkind or harsh manner.
b. If we are judging the person we are talking to or about.
c. If it seeks to hurt or malign the other person.
2. Why is it such a terrible sin to slander?
3. First, it is the opposite of what Paul says when he tells us to "speak the truth in love." We are to (1 Th 5:11) encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
4. Slandering tears down. It is spreading negative falsehoods and truths to those who would otherwise not be involved. And so it destroys not just the one person but the unity within the community. It spreads like a cancer that is out of control. It dirties the bride of Christ, the church. And hurts our witness. Slander destroys and tears down the fellowship we are to have together.
5. Second, slander is evidence of pride. In the passage before, James told of that we need to humble ourselves to experience the grace of God in our lives. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. When we are slandering someone we are lifting ourselves up. We make ourselves look better by making another look worse. We are getting back at them for doing something to us or we are jealous of them so we try to lower them in the minds of others. "Sure they are good at this, but did you hear about what they did?" The problem is that we are insecure. We should feel secure in the Lord. But perhaps we have been put down so often that we feel less than others. And so we in turn put others down to compensate.
6. This is a good example of how the sins of the parents are passed down to their children. Either the children hear their parents put others down and learn the same. Or they are put down by their parents and in turn do the same. Scene of child being hurt by parents and taking it out on family dog or younger sibling. Slander tears down community and it encourage sour pride.