Summary: While most Christians believe it is a sin to slander another person when it comes to gossip some Christians are not certain. What is wrong with exchanging "information" about another?


Leviticus 19:16

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The human brain only weighs about three pounds of soft, gooshy like tissue and yet it houses more than 1.1 trillion cells. This organ of the body is truly remarkable for it “controls all the functions of the body, interprets information from the outside world, and embodies the essence of the mind and soul.” Even though the brain cannot perform calculations as fast as the K computer by Fujitsu, which is four times faster and can hold 10 times more data than our brains, the human brain is still impressive due to its efficiency of consuming less juice than what is needed to dim a light bulb and nicely fitting within our tiny heads! And unlike the K computer, our brains are capable of managing a wide range of emotions such as anger, fear, disgust, sadness, happiness, surprise, love and is the source of our creativity and artistic expressions. Upon examining the human brain how could one not agree with king David that “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14)!

With such an amazing gift you would think that humanity would use it to praise God the Father in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-12) and yet out of the between 10,000 to 60,000 thoughts we humans have per day, research shows that about 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% are a mere repetition from one day to the next. While we are all created in the image of God and descendants of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-2), this does not mean that we see nor appreciate the miracle of human life all around us! Ever since Cain became jealous and killed his brother Abel humanity has had a love/hate relationship with one another. Even though it is only 1 % of people who commit violent physical crimes, whom among us has not verbally assaulted another? While God gave us the freedom to think as we please (1 Corinthians 6:12) this does not mean that our tongues are to be a consuming fire that praises God while we curse humanity whom was made in His image (James 3:6-10)! Living in a world where the average person checks their cell phone once every 12 minutes, talebearing and gossiping have become modern day weapons that cut just as deep as any knife! This sermon is going to review the definition of tale-bearing, when it is a sin and how to deal with those who spread lies about you.

Tale-bearing and Slander Defined

Slander is defined as “evil, malicious talk or lies intended to defame or destroy another person’s reputation” and tale-bearing is defined as “idle, often sensational and groundless talk about others.” In the Bible it includes whispering (Romans 1:29), backbiting (Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 12:20), evil surmising (1 Timothy 1:4), babbling (Ecclesiastes 10:11), tattling (1 Timothy 5:13), evil speaking (Psalms 41:5; 109:20), defaming (Jeremiah 20:10), bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20; Luke 3:14), judging charitably (James 4:11-12), raising false reports (Exodus 23:1) and repeating matters (Proverbs 17:9). Since one cannot know the thoughts, motives and deeds of another, rarely does an exchange of “secret” information or “tale-bearing” concerning another (especially when not present) not misrepresent and therefore also constitute slanderous talk. With approximately 80 % of the conversations people have every day are made up of gossip, one can’t help but wonder when the sharing of information concerning another is a sin and when it is not?

When is Tale-bearing a Sin?

Let’s start with the obvious: using our minds to think and speak slanderous talk is an abomination unto God (Proverbs 6:16, 19), especially when it comes from evil intent (Matthew 15:19; Luke 6:45) and hatred for another person (Psalms 41:7; Psalms 109:3). In Mark 14:53-65 we are told of when Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin. The hearing took place in the middle of the night which not only suggests the priests were under time constraints but also that the court proceedings represented nothing more than “kangaroo justice from a lynch mob.” “With all the chief priests and the whole of the Sanhedrin looking for evidence against Jesus” (verse 55) it is not surprising that many “stood up and gave false testimony” (verse 57). These God-fearing Jews were so consumed with hatred for Jesus that they were willing to lie to secure His fate on the cross! Many times, we are like the Sanhedrin, a lynch mob perverting justice! With pride in our own holiness and anger in our eyes, our lying tongues spread false reports about another with the intent of destroying their reputation. Bearing false witness is a direct violation of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16) and as such is a sin that God hates seeing a person commit (Proverbs 6:16; Leviticus 19:16)!

Despite most Christians knowing that slander is a sin it has become the “weapon of choice” in most church confrontations! While almost all Christians can safely say they do not hate another person to the extent they are willing to do them bodily harm, most feel they are more than justified in expressing their hostility towards another through “character assassination.” A “cardinal vice of intolerance” of the differentiated others within the church has blinded many self-righteous Christians and has left these “agents of reconciliation” impotent and accomplices of further violence. To justify their aggressive and often false testimonies they tend to “demonize” the other to make their false testimonies more palatable. What a shame it is that Christ’s hospital for wounded souls would be filled with those who would try and win the “political battle for supremacy” by tearing down others rather than becoming a servant to all by forgiving, loving and building them up in the faith! Since hatred is part of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:20), make every effort to see others as Christ saw on them cross so that one might not be tempted to go through a dreadful season (Ecclesiastes 3:8) of tearing down God’s children!

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