We’ve all experienced the damage that slander can bring. Probably everyone reading this post has been impacted, in some measure, due to slander. It may not even be that we’ve been personally slandered—perhaps our parents, our husband, our pastor even, has been the target for slander . . . and that has resulted in a course change for our lives.
We’re continuing in our study of Titus 2:3 and have reached a word of instruction that every woman needs to hear loud and clear:
[box]“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers . . .” (ESV)[/box]
Another translation reads: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips . . .” (NASB)
“…not malicious gossips”
Wow, that translation really provides a graphic picture: “malicious gossips.”
The two words “malicious” and “gossips” are actually only one word in the Greek: διάβολος/diabolos.
This word is used 38 times in the New Testament. In the NASB, three times this same word is translated “malicious gossips.” (See 1 Timothy 3:11, 2 Timothy 3:5.) In the AV it is translated “false accuser” twice, “slanderer” once, and do you know how it is translated the other 35 times?
This word “diabolos” is a metaphor applied to one who, by opposing the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the devil or to side with him.
Slander: The act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to damage another’s reputation.
Slander is more than just “sharing a prayer request” (which may truly be with a right heart and with the best intentions), but some “sharing” ends up being gossip . . . but this is more than that, slander is words that are delivered with malicious intent.
The one who is a slanderer is a tool of the devil—and that is why the activity of “slander” should NEVER be named among believers.
The fact that slander brings division is a most important detail. This is at the heart of slander: it brings disruption of fellowship and unity. Slander stands in opposition to all that typifies God’s created order. He is a God of unity, consistency, and holy fellowship.
When a person is using their tongue to slander, it is an indicator of a “heart issue.” What is at the root of slander? What is the motive behind this activity? What is the slanderer hoping to accomplish? What are the consequences of slander? Whose example are we following when we slander?
This term gives us Satan’s “M.O.” He is a slanderer, a false accuser. He attempts to destroy reputation and credibility. He uses slander as a tool to disrupt unity of fellowship, to break up friendships, marriages and churches. His first communication with man was filled with slander against God’s character.
In Genesis chapter 3, Satan brings a subtle accusation against God’s truthfulness, His good character and His benevolence. In essence, the slanderer informs the woman that God is withholding something beneficial from her: he implies that God lied to her about the consequences of eating from the tree and tried to manipulate her in order to keep her in ignorance. He subtly suggests by his statements that God is unfair and by placing this restriction on Eve, God is preventing her from having as much knowledge or power as Himself.
Don’t let your conversation smack of these kind of characteristics.
Through this initial conversation with the woman, Satan robbed her of her confidence and trust in God, deceived her with faulty information, offered her a perverted view of God and the world, and bribed her with false hope while destroying her actual future. He drew her away from a loyal relationship to her Creator, and through his persuasive communication, he planted the seeds of sedition. He lured her into treason against the Most High.
Satan accomplished his goal by his use of slander: he caused the woman to doubt God’s character and manipulated her to do what he wanted.
Consider this: when we slander others, what are we attempting to accomplish? What are our motives behind this destructive behavior?
Damaging someone else’s reputation?
Why would any believer want to be involved in this activity? It seems to be a form of “verbal homicide.” In order to slander someone, there must be a measure of evil intent toward that person. You want to see him or her suffer loss. Now, we don’t really analyze our actions this way when we are using our mouths to pass on innuendos and criticisms, but even if that isn’t your conscious intention—slander brings harm to another individual.
Possible motives for slander:
Anger: Perhaps we have been hurt by this individual and this is a way of getting back, taking revenge.
Pride: If we can point out the faults of others, it somehow makes us appear superior to them. Also, there is a real sense of smug satisfaction that comes from dispensing information to a willing listener. Face it, when you have information that no one else knows—there is a real temptation to “share” in order that you might be viewed as being “knowledgeable.”
Control: When we use information (whether it is true or false) to slander someone, we have a large amount of control over that individual’s life. We are controlling what others think of them, what their reputation is, among not only those to whom we are speaking, but among the many that this information will eventually be dispensed to. We are attempting to control not only the reputation of the individual that is being slandered, but also to control the thinking of the person that is receiving our slanderous comments.
Jealousy: Often someone slanders because they are jealous/envious of that individual. Slander is a way to bring them down in others’ eyes.
Desire for Disunity: This is one of the most common reasons for slander in the church body. Individuals that desire to bring a separation of “sides” to the church family find that the tool of slander is most helpful.
Habitual Lifestyle: Someone who lives with a negative perspective, thinking the worst of others, not the best . . . if that is your tendency and you don’t guard your tongue, that perspective combined with a loose tongue can lead you to slip into a lifestyle of slander.
Our tongue is connected to the heart. What comes out of our mouth is what’s hidden in our heart.
This is the fourth week in our summer study using Nancy Wolgemuth’s book: Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. This week’s posts includes my teaching notes for the session from our church’s women’s study, but instead of unloading it all on you in one SUPER LONG post (like last week), I’m dividing it up in five days with the homework portion below.
Homework Assignment: Return to Proverbs 31 again today and consider the type of communication that this woman has according to verse 26. What do you think Proverbs 18:21 means? Do you obey the instruction of Proverbs 11:13? What does James 1:26 say about how we use our mouths? (Continue reading Adorned pages 91–128.)