You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people. . . . You shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
Slander emits a threefold poison, for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person who is being slandered. Whether the report is true or false, we are by this precept of God’s Word forbidden to spread it.
The reputations of the Lord’s people should be very precious in our sight, and we should regard it as shameful to help the devil dishonor the church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur.
Many rejoice in putting down their brothers and sisters, as if in doing so they raised themselves. Noah’s wise sons cast a covering over their father, and the one who exposed him earned a fearful curse.
We may ourselves one of these dark days need leniency and silence from our family; let us offer it cheerfully to those who require it now. Let this be our family motto, and our personal bond: Speak evil of no man.
The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin and prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by rebuking our brother to his face, not by talking behind his back.
This approach is manly, brotherly, Christlike, and under God’s blessing will be useful.
Do we shy away from it? Then we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience and commit ourselves to the responsibility, in case by tolerating sin in our friend we become partakers of it.
Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings of faithful friends and family. Our Lord Jesus has set us a gracious example of how to deal with erring friends in His warning given to Peter, the prayer with which He preceded it, and the gentle way in which He endured Peter’s boastful denial that he needed such a caution.