Leviticus 19:11–18; 2 Corinthians 12:19–21; 1 Peter 2:1–5 (read online ⧉)
Slander is one of the biggest things that divide people whether it be in families, churches, the internet, the world. Slander can be small things, it can be large things. The reality is that it often hurts the innocent and the guilty the same. Slander and gossip can be very destructive. However, while we often focus on the person who is being slandered or gossiped about, we often miss the larger picture.
Let’s take any leader. If you heard them slandering or gossiping about someone else, it should make you pause. If they are willing to say that about a person who isn’t present, what are they saying about you when you are not present? Slander and gossip can undermine leadership, discipleship, relationship, and most of all love.
This does not mean that we cannot vent or share our struggles or feelings regarding another person. That can be bad, too. What we share about others needs to be considered carefully. Often we don’t carefully and prayerfully consider what we say about others. It is when we react with our responses that the greatest damage can occur. In our anger or pain, we often attribute characteristics to others that are more a reflection of our feelings than the other person.
In fact, there is no simple way to do any of this. Human relationships are often a struggle. While we struggle to relate to one another, we are hurt by one another, and hurt one another. Some of the pains we experience and have yet to identify or process will come out in ways we do not understand or anticipate. Celebrate Recovery (a 12-step Christian recovery program) has a great and very useful saying for when we deal with other people:
“Hurt people, hurt people.”
It is simple. If we think about it, though, we can see the truth in it. Humankind has fallen from God’s intent. Out of our sin, and as a consequence of the sins of others, we hurt that which bears God’s image…each other.
Father God, you show such grace, mercy, and patience with us your wayward children. Thank you for the gift of Jesus, giving us a way to overcome our frailties that does not depend on us. Holy Spirit, sharpen and heal us into a Christlike image that seeks to restore and heal others and ourselves. Amen.
1) Can you think of a time when you believe someone slandered you or gossiped about you? What was that like?
2) What is wholesome speech? What should the characteristics of wholesome speech be? What should the end results of wholesome speech be?
3) How do you heal relationships torn apart by gossip or slander?