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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

A Word from James: Slander

by Marilynn Chadwick

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another…who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11,12 NIV)

Slander. It’s an ugly word. Slander, or defamation of character, used to be considered a crime. Nowadays, it’s more like a contact sport. Runaway slander fuels reality shows, tabloids, and especially social media. 

James gives us a hard-hitting warning about the dangers of slander. If we find gossip enticing, then we’d better pause. Old "camel knees," is sure to step on our toes in today's verses:

“Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11,12 NLT).

The New Living Translation of the word “slander” is straightforward: "Don't speak evil against." Slander, katalaleo, comes from two Greek words: kata, "against," and laleo, or "speak." There's an innate hostility in the word “slander.”  

So why aren't we more careful about the use of our tongue? Sometimes I catch myself speaking ill of someone under the guise of "processing a problem." Or maybe I share a morsel of gossip "for prayer." Ugh. Am I the only one who struggles with this sin?

James speaks strongly against slander. Imagine how it makes the Lord feel to hear his children speaking evil about each other. Slander is one of the devil's favorite tools to divide the Body of Christ. Especially since his scheme catches most of us unaware.

Lord, I need a wake-up call. Alert me to the dangers of slander. James won't let the subject rest. Neither do you. Make me uncomfortable with slander so that I won't speak or listen to harmful words. Help me realize that slander breaks your heart. Let it also break mine.

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