Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; I am the Lord.
This passage of scripture teaches us that the habit or tendency to be conduits of gossip is forbidden in the scriptures, and should not be encouraged nor indulged, especially amongst brethren and family members. Tale bearing is not only restricted to falsehoods or half-truths, it also includes things that are actually true, but that are derogatory about a person. In the passage for today, the Lord prohibits the practice of carrying bad news about a person's failings, or the habit of gossiping about the mistakes and sins of others. As a Christian matures in Christ, the desire to hear of the faults of others dies away and becomes repugnant, and in its place is born a godly desire to hear of the good achievements of persons.
Slander, gossip, tale-bearing, and character assassination are all manifestations of satanic characteristics, and should be resolutely put away by the grace of God. The Bible sets the gold standard by which all our communications should be governed. In essence it states that if we have nothing good to say about a person it is better left unsaid rather than fanning the flames of gossip with the fuel of bad news. Let's read:
James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
A church brother once fell into the sin of adultery, and the fellow church members, instead of gathering to pray for the forgiveness and restoration of the fallen one, huddled together in small groups, recounting the gory details of the sin that was committed. This went on for some time behind the brother's back, and by the time he got wind of the gossip that was taking place, his own soul was so wounded that the prayers offered on his behalf were to no avail, since they were being offered in the wrong spirit. This is exactly what the prophet is referring to when he wrote the following words. Let's read:
Proverbs 18:8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
That which is spoken is always indicative of the state of our relationship with God, for our words are a direct reflection of that which our minds dwell upon. That's why we are admonished in the scriptures to form the habit, through the power of the Holy Spirit, of focusing on that which is upright. Let's read:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Whenever we are tempted to indulge the spirit of tale-bearing, let's remember the example of Christ as He interacted with some of His worst enemies. He could have exposed the clandestine plots of Judas, He could have revealed the innermost sins of Caiaphas, and He could have slain Herod with a public revelation of his wicked deeds. Yet Jesus chose not to do this, and maintained a profound silence when rudely questioned and accused. It is therefore incumbent upon us as Christians to follow in the footsteps of the Master, by denying ourselves the urge to spread rumors and tales.
We therefore end with a passage of scripture which teaches us the right way to handle the rumors of the sins of fellow believers, and it really is a principle that should be applied across the entire spectrum of our interaction with our fellow men. Let's read:
James 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
May God bless us in our endeavors to do that which is right, for it is His will that His character be reflected in the lives of all believers. God bless!