Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

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Lafayette, CO 80026
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November 17 – Take Care Not To Slander

“Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.” Proverbs 30:10

Devotional Thought For The Day

There are many ways in which slander occurs. Essentially, slander is the degradation of the reputation of another. This may occur when people publicize the evil, mistakes, or incompetence of another person. Sometimes we think that there is nothing wrong with this, but the Scripture is clear that “love covers a multitude of sins.” [Prov. 10:12; 1 Pet 4:8] Jesus instructs us to speak privately to another about his “offense,” and if he repents it is to be forgiven and the matter closed. [Mat 18:15-17] The only time we are instructed to widen knowledge of a matter is in the case of a brother or sister who is impenitent. The goal is not to hurt or harm the person’s reputation, but to bring about repentance and reconciliation under the gracious forgiveness of God. Any other motive, and any other outcome, is grievous sin and offense in itself, which must be repented and corrected or judgment will ensue. [Matt. 7:2]

Slander also occurs when people lie about others – and often this occurs within working relationships, where some benefit can be realized by destroying the relationship between a servant and a master, between an employee and his/her employer. Perhaps there may be some reticence to actually telling outrageous lies against another, but we are more easily tempted to exaggerate the offenses of others and to turn minor errors or mistakes into grievous evils – in reporting on others. But the latter is just as evil as the former and merits the same condemnation and adverse judgment. And again, unless repented and corrected, appropriate judgment will surely come from God. One commentator wrote poignantly about this proverb: [when one slanders another] “one thereby makes a man, whose lot in itself is not a happy one, at length and perhaps forever unhappy, and thereby he brings a curse on himself. But it is no matter of indifference to be the object of the curse of a man whom one has unrighteously and unjustly overwhelmed in misery; such a curse is not without its influence, for it does not fruitlessly invoke the righteous retribution of God, and thus one has sorrowfully to atone for the wanton sins of the tongue.” [Keil and Delitzsch]

So the proverb is a stern warning against what comes so easily to us – slandering others by truth, lies, or exaggerations. The antidote to such evil behavior is the golden rule, to consider how we feel when others slander us. Further, the antidote is healthy repentance, understanding just how evil and spiritually incompetent our own thoughts, words, and deeds are. Such thoughts of “self-interest” and “self-examination,” however, will not ultimately protect us from such temptations. We must also be keenly aware of the great and wondrous graciousness and forgiveness and mercy that God provides for us in Christ Jesus, how it is that He washes and cleanses us from all sin and guilt, and how He wills only good for us. It is finally only His love that can move and compel us to love one another as He loves us – and this includes preeminently forgiveness, compassion, and mercy toward others – covering over sins and weakness rather than publicizing them in slander and gossip.

Curiously, it is not only unbelievers who may stoop to such wretched behavior, but “good” and “decent” people often erroneously think that “uncovering” and revealing the sins of others is doing a good thing. This is confusing evil with good, and reveals a dreadful ignorance of God and of what is truly good, decent, and loving behavior. The proverb helps us to think more clearly about this, and to overcome the perverse distortions of our sinful hearts, and encourages us to consider more carefully how we are to be and behave – as God loves us. The warning in regard to our sinful impulses is also true – and calls us to repent of these evils before it is too late. As we confess our sin we have assurance of God’s gracious forgiveness and cleansing [1 Jn. 1:9]. Hopefully, those whom we have harmed with our tongues will find the same gracious desire to forgive us. And if we have been harmed by the malicious tongue of another, it is clear that we too are called to forgive rather than retaliate with similar slander or with cursing. May God have mercy on us all, and teach us the right and loving way.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, we often complain to You about the evils that others have inflicted upon us – in a sense, seeking to tattle on them. Sadly, we are not loathe to slander others, and frequently slip into the habit of gossip. Our greed and pride also compel us to do whatever evil is necessary to improve our lot in life. For these, our dark and heinous sins, forgive us and have mercy on us. We also ask You to protect us from the slander of others, and especially the horrible effects that such slander can cause. Improve and increase decency in the hearts of all Your dear children of faith, that we may constantly grow in love. Amen.