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April 7, 1996

Watching Your Tongue

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My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride. PSALM 56:2
What causes us to say nasty things about other people? What starts us down the road to slander?
Slander occurs when we verbally communicate to others lies that harm someone’s reputation. Slander is a brother of libel, which is slander in the written form. We hear those terms mostly in legal contexts, where one person charges another with slander or libel. Slander is extremely hard to prove, especially when it involves public figures. In cases of libel and slander, ill intent generally must be shown. In other words, you have to prove that someone meant to cause you harm.
But if we hold to the dictionary definition and not the legal definition, slander happens far more frequently than we might admit. It shows up in common gossip and intense battles of office politics. It might start with a whisper. It might start as a joke. At its worst, it grows into vicious power plays that end up damaging reputations and ruining careers.
Do you see it happening around you? Do you see it happening to you? Do you see it happening in you?
Again, what causes us to say nasty things about other people? What starts us down the road to slander?
Look in your heart. Check your pride. Is your pride in God or in yourself? And if it’s in yourself, what fruit is it producing from your tongue?

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