Slander is serious. The Ninth Commandment is “Do not give a false testimony about another.” False testimony may not be an outright lie, but simple deceit. It is casting another person in a poor light without being certain of the facts. It may be giving your opinion as concrete evidence against a person’s poor behavior. This is setting yourself up as a judge using your own law (your opinion) for passing sentence. Jesus warns us to stop this judgmental behavior in Matthew 7, because judging brings impending judgment on the judger. You are in danger of discipline if you slander.
Slander is a result of many things: a form of revenge for being wronged, the result of envy, even simple boredom. It is talking about a problem with the wrong person, with the wrong goal. If you are offended by someone’s behavior, speech or manner, there is a correct way to handle your hurt.
First, you must start with yourself.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
Ask yourself: How did I contribute to this problem? Is this really my issue? Do I need to cover this person’s offense because I need to love more? Am I being too sensitive? Have I sinned against this person myself? Do I want to help this person become more Christ-like, or do I just want to hurt them back?
Then, you must speak to the person herself.
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” Matthew 18: 15
Why? “The one with the sore toes goes, because she’s the one who always knows!” The person who hurt you may not be aware there is a problem. They can’t read your mind. You must discuss it with them! Not with your girlfriends. Not with your mother. Not with the elders. You must speak to the person who hurt you. The sweetest times of Christian fellowship and growth have been when I have bared my soul to another, revealing how much their sin hurt me; or I was confronted about my behavior hurting another. This confronting each other is the stuff the Church is made of.
… they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.1 Timothy 5:13
I find it fascinating that slander is the bastard child of poor time management. How do you spend your time? Do you waste time idling about, just barely getting your duties accomplished, much less reaching out to serve others? Do you build relationships based on gossip or compassion? Do you neglect your responsibilities to chit-chat for hours? “When words are many, sin is not absent.” If you are tempted with the sin of slander, maybe it’s time to stop talking and start working.