Slander. It’s an ugly word. Slander, or defamation of character, used to be regarded as a crime. Nowadays, it’s more like a contact sport. Slander fuels reality shows, tabloids, even the news.
James gives a hard-hitting warning about the dangers of slander. If we find gossip enticing, then we’d better pause. Old “camel knees,” will step on our toes in today’s verses:
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 NLT).
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 “speak.” There’s an innate hostility in the word slander. So why aren’t we more careful about the use of our 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.” Ugh. Am I the only one who struggles with this?
James speaks strongly against slander. Imagine how it makes the Lord feel to hear His children “speaking evil against” one another. Slander is one of the devil’s favorite tools to divide the Body of Christ. Especially since his 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.