Psst…did you hear (read) about…..????
There is an old story about a certain celebrity who is said to have quipped, “If you have nothing nice to say about someone please sit next to me.” Few things are more intriguing to the sin that clings in our heart than those things which tend to harm the reputation of another. The ability to slay the character of another in the hearts of men has become alarmingly easy through the internet.
In my devotional reading the other day I came across these words by my dearly departed Mr. Spurgeon.
Malicious gossip emits a threefold poison, for it injures the speaker, the hearer, and the person who is the subject of the accusation. Whether the report is true or not, God’s Word forbids us to spread it. The reputations of the Lord’s people should be very precious in our sight, and we should consider it shameful to help the Devil dishonor the church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle, not a spur, for a number of people take pride in pulling down their brothers as though it lifts themselves higher. Noah’s sons Shem and Japheth wisely “took a garment … and covered their father’s nakedness” (Gen. 9:23), but Ham spoke of his father’s nakedness and earned a horrible curse as a result. We too may have a dark day ahead, one in which we would appreciate self-restraint and silence from our family in Christ. Thus, let us cheerfully offer the same courtesy to those who need it now. May this be our family rule and personal pledge:“Slander no one” (Titus 3:2)! The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to criticize sin but prescribes exactly how we are to do so. We are to rebuke our brother to his face rather than complain behind his back. This useful method carries God’s blessing and is therefore brotherly, Christlike, and powerful. Our flesh will shrink from this approach, but we should consider the greater stress upon our conscience if we refuse to do the right thing. By ignoring the problem we allow our friend to continue in sin, and then we ourselves actually become participants in it.
Many people have been saved from shameful sinfulness through the timely, wise, and affectionate warnings of faithful ministers and friends. And our Lord Jesus Himself has set a gracious example for us in dealing with erring friends. We see His warning to Peter regarding his boastful statement of support being preceded by prayer and delivered with gentleness.