Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

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January 29 – The Chilling Discomfort Of Backbiters

“The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.” Proverbs 25:23

Devotional Thought For The Day

Were it not for the KJV having a directly different translation of the first clause, I wouldn’t bother to let you know that virtually all scholars agree that a marginal reading [that translated above] is the preferred reading and what the author must have meant.  Further, the rain from a “north wind” is raw, cold, and uncomfortable – much like such wet northern storms in the North American continent which discomfort people living here. So we can understand exactly the author’s observation as to the effects of “a backbiting tongue,” one who gossips and intentionally slanders people behind their back.

First, in a godly society of people [like a church] such gossip should immediately rankle the hearers – so that they heartily disapprove of such malicious evil and confront the “backbiter” directly.  This still happens from time to time, and should be much more frequent, for gossip is literally the national pastime in America, and in much of the world.  The evil of such gossip, the malice and hatred behind it, the pride and envy and wickedness that compels it, is disgusting and despicable – as we well know when considering incidents in which we were the topic of the gossip.  Which brings us to the greater reaction, the anger and malice that ensues when the person being slandered and maligned finds out about it.  It is hard not to agree with such anger, and the logic for revenge, when a person has been sliced and stabbed by the sharp vicious tongue of a “backbiter.”

Of course all such sins have been paid for already in the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.  We should certainly repent of our own gossiping [recognizing the evil it is and the evil it provokes], and understand what suffering must have been endured by Christ for such wickedness – and the suffering it causes in others.  The comforting assurance of God’s mercy should then inform and compel us in regard to turning away from this evil, even if it has become habitual and we have to work hard to break away from it.  And we must take care not to get drawn back into it – for our sinful nature constantly compels us to speak evil of others behind their back, when they are not present. So we must keep in mind just how wicked and destructive our tongues can be – and keep them in check.

Likewise, Christ’s gracious love and forgiveness should compel us to defend others when “backbiters” attack them with gossip, and to confront and correct such slanderers.  This requires courage – for we can easily imagine what these gossips will be saying about us as soon as they get out of our earshot.  So you can see that this is spiritual warfare of the most basic kind – whether we will be blowing along with the norther, or seeking to shelter others from it and quiet its cold gusts.  Knowing God and His gracious forgiveness, His patient mercy and His great love, there can be no question as to what His will is in this.  If this does not happen among His people, within His church, then where will such calming, quieting, peaceful influence come from?  So let us consider the importance of this in our own personal lives, and the good effect that we can perhaps have on those around us.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, You also suffered the wickedness of gossip and slander during Your earthly ministry, and You well know the punishment You suffered for our malice and backbiting.  Grant us grace to know and believe Your forgiveness, and to allow Your love to transform our attitudes and behavior in regard to backbiting.  Help us grasp the greatness of this evil, and the harm it causes, so that we become all the more motivated to avoid it, and to confront it when others put it in our face.  Amen.