Sometimes we cannot believe the words that exit the mouths of people. It may be a mouth that simply needs to be washed out with soap. Other times, however, we are in disbelief because the words are harsh, unfiltered, hurtful, cruel, and just downright nasty.
“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within out of the heart of man, come… slander,” (Mark 7:20-22, ESV).
We may not use the word “slander” or “blasphemy” in our every day vernacular, but we know it when we hear it. When we think of the word “blasphemy,” we usual connect it to the idea of speaking against or falsely about Deity. The original word, however, carries the
additional meaning of speaking injurious about or toward someone. Thus, describing a person who speaks with the purpose to cause harm or injure the name or reputation of someone else (whether God or man).
This should cause us to take a minute and reflect on our communication to others, and about others. The context of the above verse informs us that it is a heart problem when slander exits our mouth. Think of the most common moments when slander occurs. We can see times when slander is either intentional or unintentional.
The latter form of slander happens when someone speaks poorly about us or does something infuriating and, before we know it, we regret what exits our mouth in response. Unintentional slander is sinful because of the lack of self-control in our speech. What we say, regardless of the circumstances, reveals what we have stored in our hearts (James 3:1-12). This is why we read that Christians should be “swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” (James 1:19-20, NKJV). Jesus himself told us that we will given an account for every idle, or careless, word that exits our mouth (Matthew 12:36). Even if someone does not extend us the same courtesy, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44, NKJV). This is not always easy, but Christians are called to a higher standard of moral living.
Intentional slander is sinful because it purposefully brings harm to others. James puts it beautifully, saying, “It [the tongue] is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so,” (James 3:8-10, NKJV, emp. added). Even if what we say is truthful, if our motives are to hurt someone or assassinate their character, we are in the wrong.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt. so that you may know how you ought to answer each person,” (Colossians 4:6, ESV).
Our speech, both language and content, come from our heart. How do slanderous thoughts, corrupt language, and hurtful words get into our hearts? Maybe we learned them from our family and/or friends. Perhaps our entertainment choices fill our minds with more harmful content than beneficial. The Bible tells us “Do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewal of your mind,” (Romans 12:2). What can you do to transform your mind from the bitterness of slander to the graciousness of salt?