DO NOT MURDER….
Do we really need the sixth commandment?
Oftentimes we think this commandment doesn’t apply to us.
“I’ve never killed anyone.” “I’m not a murderer!” By that we mean that we’ve never taken a gun and blown someone’s face off or that we haven’t taken a knife and plunged into someone’s heart. We haven’t literally killed anyone so (we think) this commandment doesn’t really apply to us. “Haven’t killed anyone? Don’t be so sure.”
Slander is murder with words.
James 4:11 (NIV)
Brother, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the Law and judges it. And if you judge the Law, you are not a practitioner of the Law, but a judge of it.
First, what exactly is slander?
The Greek word translated “slander” literally means “to talk down.” Slander is similar to gossip, which means “to pass on personal facts.”
However, slander is not only passing on personal facts about another person it is speaking of someone in a way that lowers that person’s reputation in the eyes of others. This practice usually takes place in their absence when they have no opportunity to defend themselves.
Most of us are unaware when we slander others. We just don’t see that we are talking others down. We are blinded to this as a problem in our lives. Instead we honestly perceive ourselves to be doing nothing more than analyzing or commenting.
The point here is not that God wants us to repress the truth or to be silent about spiritual issues and accountability.
If we know that God wants us to speak to a friend about a spiritual issue that we are concerned about, then we are to go to that person with a clear understanding of our scriptural responsibility and have a heart to heart talk – ask questions for clarification and share your concern. Be ready to encourage them and pray for them.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
Speaking the truth in love will not always involve words that are pleasant or nice, for it may involve asking someone a tough question, or confronting someone about a problem, or going to ask for forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong.
Those things aren’t always ‘nice’ or ‘comfortable’. But they can be helpful, constructive, and needful.
The words that we speak, are they life or death?
Do they give us hope or discouragement?
Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
Since we are held responsible for every word we speak, we should listen very carefully to what we are saying, not just to our brethren, but also to ourselves.
If it is the Word of God — it is Life, it is freedom.
If it is ourselves speaking — it is death, and words of death will destroy, kill everyone that hears us; and not only they who hear us, but ourselves as well.
So what do we love — Life or death?
Let it be life: Begin to look at every temptation to use words that condemn, or accuse, or criticize, or to gossip as a reminder, a signal, to use your tongue to speak wholesome words instead.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
A tongue can kill or save others’ lives. A false witness can cause the death of an innocent man, or a comforter can restore a dejected man by an uplifting word. A slanderer can kill the reputation of a good man, or a wise counselor can guide a young man through the dangers of youth.
Words have real power: Either for good or for evil.
They hold the power of life and death.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
We are told to keep our tongues from speaking evil things. We can seek the Lord in many ways and appear godly towards others but if we do not cease sinning from our lips or in our writing, then we can bring shame to the Lord’s testimony.
Love calls for us to seek to do good to our brethren, build them up and encourage them according to their needs.
When we use our words to condemn or criticize, the Apostle Paul called that “unwholesome talk”.
What profit is it for us to claim to be Disciples of the Lord yet secretly or publicly tear down others in the body of Christ. It is grieving to read and see the ways Christians slander others in the Body of Christ. It is surely it grieves more the Holy Spirit because it his His Body we speak of and condemn.
Whenever possible, choose words that edify, exhort and encourage. Not flattery which is insincere and is like being a false witness, but by sincere compliments.
Hide these verses in our hearts:
Proverbs 31:26 “She opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness.”
Proverbs 16:22-23 “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
The wrong use of words is not a problem limited to the unbelieving, secular world around us. The hard truth is that slander can also be a very serious problem among Christians.
Death and life are in our tongues.
Do not murder.