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EVIL REPORTS: HOW TO IDENTIFY THEM

Fact number one: Most people don’t recognize slander when they hear it. If they did, they would not believe it or be affected by it. Why don’t most people recognize slander when they hear it?

Fact number two: Most people engage in slander themselves. Some blatantly, some not so blatantly. Some awaringly, some not so awaringly. This is why most people don’t recognize slander. They engage in it themselves.

Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” We need to have our senses trained. Before we became believers, the devil had our senses trained his way. God wants to retrain our senses.

According to this verse, how is one retrained? Through practice. What we do affects our hearts and minds. If more people practiced righteous speech, they would discern unrighteous speech.

What are the identifying marks of slander? Remember, most of the time it’s not readily discernible. It has no mug shot. It’s usually never caught red-handed. But it always leaves its mark. It has fingerprints. What are the fmgerprints of slander? They are the effect produced in a person’s life. At the time it may seem to be only an innocent question or a harmless statement. But what effect did it have in your life? Did it cause you to love the person talked about or feel judgmental and critical of him? Did it produce confidence, trust and loyalty to that person, or did it cause you to even slightly question that person’s integrity? This is the true evidence that will help expose slander — not the exact words, or the sincerity of the words, but the effect in your heart.

—By Dennis Clark

EVIL REPORTS: HOW TO RESPOND

There are only two situations in which it would be right to listen to negative information about another believer. One would be if you are directly involved in helping reprove the person and correct his weakness or error (Gal. 6:1).

The other situation would be in the case of someone who has been disciplined by the church. In this case, you would be right to accept those facts as confirmed by two or three witnesses and by the church (I Cor. 5:12-13).

In every other case, any negative information would either be gossip (if it is true) or slander (if it is untrue). In either case you should:

1. Ask yourself, “Why is he telling me this instead of the one he is speaking against?”

2. Stop the conversation. Proverbs 27:12 says: “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed [into the conversation] and pay the penalty.”

3. Humbly reprove the person who is bringing the evil report, since he has sinned against you with his speech (Matthew 18:15, Pr. 28:23).

4. Defend the accused. Proverbs 12:6 says: “The wicked accuse, the godly defend” (Living Bible).

5. Instruct him to go directly to the person he has been negative about and talk to him about the problem (Matthew 18:15).

6. See that he later gives a good report about the person. If he does not, or does not even go to the person and get things resolved, go to step two of Matthew 18 (reprove him with one or two others). Do not just let things go. Psalm 101:4b-5 says: “I will have nothing to do with evil. Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him I will put to silence.” Deuteronomy 19:19 says, “You must purge the evil from among you.”

—By Dave Gumlia

Responses

The Cause And Effect: A Closer Look
IX. DISCERNING SLANDER


The Cause And Effect: A Closer Look
X. RESPONDING TO NEGATIVE INFORMATION

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