Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV
Slander is not just speaking falsely about someone; the intention is malicious and meant to damage someone’s reputation. It is divisive and destructive to our relationships. Because of the poisonous nature of this sin, it is the enemy’s chief strategy for dividing and conquering our marriages. Words against another destroy our horizontal relationships, causing more strife and distrust than any other action. It’s not always bold and easily identifiable, many times slander wears the subtle mask of a friend seeking help—sometimes it’s just the tone with which we share information, but it’s intention damages the person.
Slander is essentially stealing the value of a person’s name—it’s that devaluing of the heart that makes it so evil. Whenever we handle another person’s name, if we speak unjustly, we are vandalizing their character. Names are not so easily restored in people’s minds—the destruction caused by slander can result in long-lasting damage. We may be able to forgive our spouses for their sin against us, but the damage we cause to their name in another person’s mind can be irreversible. Because the action slandered about was not committed against that other person, they do not go through the process of forgiveness, so the damage to the person’s character remains intact, even when you’ve let it go. Slander is great wickedness.
God hates slander, so the Bible has a whole lot to say on the subject. Yet, it is a trap so many of us get caught in so often. When we have been wronged, the world defends our slander in the name of justice. We believe we have a right to speak out about how horribly we’ve been treated, so we easily share our stories of how we’ve been wronged while tearing down another person. Because we feel more justified in our anger when people are angry with us, we slander to align people with our thinking. We want people on our side. Even though we know in our hearts that anger is sinful, somehow we make it okay when people understand why we’re angry. “When they hear what he’s done, surely they’ll understand.”
And worse—when we hear slander, rather than help our friends stop, we dig into the angry emotion with our friends. Everyone likes a juicy story, so we listen and encourage and jump right on that bandwagon of sin. I get caught on that train far too often. As believers, we are to stop the slander when we hear it. When a friend comes to us upset about something their spouse did to them, we should be helping them to see the sin in their slander. But that’s hard. We want to support our friend in their hurt or anger, and the way the world has taught us to do that is to listen and side with them. That’s not what God calls us to do.
God calls slander sin. It’s so important that it made its way to the big list of 10 commandments. He knows our heart so well, and He knows our temptations, so He pulled this one out on top to be sure everyone knows about it. Yet, we still do it all the time. I would argue it is horizontal sin we struggle with the most.
Pay more attention to how you speak about your spouse, and how others speak to you. Slander is everywhere. Call upon the name of the Lord to give you the wisdom and the strength to stop slander in its tracks.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗