Fight Slander First in Yourself
The foremost slanderer we must silence is the one inside us. Full of malignant pride, our sin natures are not interested in truth, but in self-glory. So they seek to manipulate others through slander (or flattery) for our own selfish benefit.
Sin (and therefore our demonic harassers) seizes on a concern for or an offense we’ve received from another and seeks to distort it into thinking evil of that person.
Thinking evil of another is assigning imagined or exaggerated negative qualities to them that don’t exist. Often this begins as private fantasies where we nurture our concerns or offense by imagining ourselves justified in our righteousness and others condemned in their evil. But in truth, all we’re doing is passing our own evil thoughts on to imaginations disguised as other people. That’s our sin nature’s slanderer talking. We are fools to listen to it.
And when our slander spills out from ourselves to others—and it will if we don’t catch it soon enough it is both selfishly indulgent and cowardly.
Slander is indulgent because often what we really seek is the self-flattery buzz of our listener approving and admiring us more than the one we are slandering. We are robbing another’s reputation to get the drug of self-flattery.
Slander is cowardly because it’s a way of nurturing a concern or an offense and gaining sympathizers without doing the courageous work of bringing it directly to the source of our concern or offense. Our rationalizations for this can be countless, but essentially we don’t have the guts to deal with it head-on. This means our character is in serious question, since we are willing to vandalize another’s character to gain allies.
We must grow ruthless in ignoring and silencing our slandering sin natures.
Helping Each Other Fight Slander
When someone slanders another to us, we must remember that we are not mainly fighting flesh and blood, but spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). Satan knows that slander deadens and splits churches, poisons friendships, and fractures families. He knows slander quenches the Holy Spirit, kills love, short-circuits spiritual renewal, undermines trust and sucks the courage out of the saints. So our goal, particularly in the context of the church, is to help each other shed demonic weights and avoid satanic stumbling blocks.
So how do we do this? The best way is to become people who are not safe to slander around. We must ask each other questions like:
• Have you shared your concern with this person directly? I’d be willing to go with you to talk to him.
• Just to be clear, is this information I should know? Do you want me to help you pursue reconciliation?
• Are you doing everything you possibly can to put away “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander?” (Ephesians 4:31)
• How can I help you guard this person’s reputation like a treasure? (Proverbs 22:1)
In other words, friends don’t let friends slander. Friends don’t let friends act like God-haters (Romans 1:30).
Let us remember that we are stewards of the treasure of each other’s good names. Let us resolve to avoid sharing information that is unnecessarily damaging to another person’s reputation and to repent to everyone affected if we do. Let us seek to silence the sin nature slanderer within and graciously give and receive others’ help when one of us slips, perhaps unaware, into slander. Let us do damage to Satan’s forces by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Let us lay aside the destructive sin-weight of slander.