Slander! A rather ugly word. Slander, or “defamation,” used to be a crime. Nowadays, it seems to be a contact sport. Slander fuels our reality shows, tabloids, even the news. James gives a hard-hitting warning about the dangers of slander. If we find gossip enticing, better pause. Old “camel knees,” will stomp on our toes in today’s “watchword” from James Chapter Four:
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11,12 LT).
The New Living Translation interpretation of slander is straightforward: “Don’t speak evil against…” Slander, katalaleo, comes from two words: kata, “against,” and laleo, or “to speak.” There’s an innate hostility conveyed by the word. So why aren’t we more careful about this damaging use of the tongue?
Sometimes I catch myself speaking ill of someone under the guise of “processing a problem. ” Or maybe I share a morsel of gossip “for prayer.” Ever struggle with this?
Ugh. James hates slander, and I can only guess how it makes the Lord feel to hear His children “speaking evil against” one another. No doubt slander is one of the devil’s favorite method of dividing the Body of Christ. Especially since this scheme catches most of us sleeping.
Lord, I need a wake-up call. Alert me to the dangers of slander. James won’t let the subject rest. Neither do You. Make me uncomfortable with slander so that I won’t speak or listen to harmful words. Help me realize that slander breaks Your heart. Let it also break mine. -Amen.