My friend of two decades, Vanessa, reminds me often that when God reveals someone’s flaws to us, or an area that they are struggling in, God does that for the sole purpose and with the main intention that we pray and intercede for such a one.
Life is sometimes full of unpleasantries, hurtful things. No one likes it when others speak badly about them. It hurts when what’s said is the truth, and it’s heartbreaking when it’s an untruth, an exaggeration, or an outright lie. To slander means to utter a misrepresentation which defames and damages another’s reputation. And Oh, how tempting it is to slander for those who feel so inclined.
It’s hard to ignore slander as the instinct is to defend oneself, to set the record straight, so to speak. But years ago, a dear friend of mine –Richard– liberated me from this futile remedial course with his words of wisdom, saying something to the effect: even if we could call everyone in an auditorium and tell them our side of the story to clear our name and salvage our reputation, a percentage of those people would leave the auditorium still doubting our version of events and choosing to believe the slander instead. A lightbulb went off in my head in that instance and since then, all those many years ago, I have neither had the inclination nor felt the need to counter any form of slander directed at me.
Again, God only reveals someone’s flaws to us for the sole purpose that we stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30), praying and interceding for them. When we instead start to slander them, lie about them, or exaggerate on our claims, it displeases God. He says in Psalm 101:5 “whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy.” I’m not sure who the brave person is that wants to be on a disastrous collision course with God by slandering another; may it never be.
Why does God hate a slanderer? Because it separates good friends as Proverbs 10:28 tells us “a slanderer separates intimate friends.” This is why in Proverbs 10:18, we are instructed not to “associate with a gossip”, and that “whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Prov. 10:18). Instead, we are urged to “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with our heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). We are charged to see the good in others, esteeming everyone better than ourselves (Phil 2:3). 1 Peter 4:8 beseechingly reminds us that ‘love covers a multitude of sins.’
There is freedom in agreeing with thine adversary (Matthew 5:25), because truth be told, when we slander another, who we really expose is ourselves and what lies within our hearts. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:34 that ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.’ As tempting as it is to resort to slander when we feel wronged, scripture doesn’t allow us to repay evil for evil (Rom. 12:21). God calls us to a higher response, one of love and forgiveness. This is easier to achieve if we see that such an act as born of pain, anguish, and desperation, thus making it easier for us to empathize or overlook hurtful actions, even enabling us to reach out to help attend to another’s pain.
Our responsibility begins and ends with us being the best we can be and doing the best we can to keep aligning ourselves to God’s word as He fashions us in His image and transforms our minds. Simply ask yourself: Is it true? If the answer is yes, then earnestly submit yourself to the Lord asking that He changes you as you gaze upon His beauty (Psalm 27:4) and immerse yourself in His word (1 Timothy 4:15). If it is false, then it’s none of your business, and as such, you must resist the urge to set the record straight. Instead, shake it off and trust the Father to defend your honor, as Psalm 62:7 tells us, ‘my salvation and my honor rest on God.’
Indeed with God everything is a win-win, even that which the enemy intends for our destruction, God will turn it around for our good. As we are reminded in Romans 8:28, ‘all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.’ Like the Psalmist, we too can say that He really is our strong tower (Proverbs 18:10), our refuge and strength in times of trouble ((Psalm 46:1), and our place of hiding place, protecting us from trouble and surrounding us with songs of deliverance -Selah (Psalm 32:7).