This is going to be out of the normal vein that I usually write, so I hope that you will stick with me and read all the way to the end.
As we move into 2022, with expectations that things are going to shift in our favor and God is going to open doors of opportunity to us that are either new or have at one time been closed, I am inclined to talk about us as women and men of God. I am inclined to talk about our character. Our foundation. Our core being. Our integrity. The very elements that will cause the favor of God to allow those doors of opportunity to open for us.
As I was studying the book of 1Peter this week, I came across a word that jumped out at me. Now I will say that I am still digesting the complexity of what the Lord is saying, but I know that even on the surface there is great depth and significance, and I can’t take it lightly.
The word that jumped out to me was the word slander. It is one of five behaviors that Peter listed that are directly opposed to loving one another “from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22) – Malice, Deceit, Hypocrisy, Envy, and Slander. We could talk about all five but for the sake of time Holy Spirit is focusing on just one and that is “slander”.
The dictionary gives the definition of slander as this: An action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation. Diana Lynn’s definition is: “Gossip. Conversing, whether true or false, about someone behind their back that gives a negative, unkind reflection of who that person is”.
In the definition of slander, it says “false” statements. I would like to debate that for a moment. My opinion is that whatever is said does not necessarily have to be false, it can just be negative, it can be a biased opinion, a person’s perception, etc.
Opinions or perceptions come through the lens or filter of the person looking at the situation. Could it be right? Yes, based on their opinions/perceptions. Could it be wrong? Yes again, based on their opinions/perceptions. Perceptions are in the eye of the beholder.
There are many factors that influence what people think at any given time. Where we are emotionally, relationally, family life, job, happy or unhappy, many things play into people’s response to situations. What sets you off today might not even be a blip on the radar screen tomorrow. We call these contributors, factors. Unfortunately, we don’t always consider all the factors that might contribute to our viewpoint. And in a person’s defense, sometimes they don’t even realize that they are being influenced by any of these “influencers”.
So, what’s the point? Have you ever been swayed by another man’s opinion/perception? By what I term a “slanderous” conversation? A conversation that “damaged” a relationship?
Slander is anything that sways another person’s opinion about someone else. In my opinion, it can be truth, or it can be a lie. Whichever it is if it taints someone’s opinion about another then I think it’s slander. If it diminishes what someone else thinks about another, then it’s slander.
I have always said that 99% of the world’s problems could be solved through communication. I am convinced that we really aren’t at odds with each other like we think we are, that our desires and passions are more the same than different. But, because of “influencers”, either human or situational, we make decisions that change and alter the direction of our relationships.
There have been tons of posts on Facebook recently talking about relationships and they reference “I need to leave you because you’re not good for me”. I wonder, are we really examining the relationship or are we believing everyone’s posts and saying: Yep, I’m outta here”!!!! Maybe the truth is that God is wanting us to change and not the other way around. Maybe we are the ones that need to examine our motives, our emotions, our situations, and rethink who we are as men and women of God. Are we the peacemakers that the bible talks about? Or do we make a rash decision and walk away because of our filters and what we “think” about something? (Abusive relationships are not included in this.)
Maybe, you have had a conversation with the person, and it didn’t get anywhere. Could it be that God is telling you to try again? Only you will know the answer to that question and only you will know the timing. But I would say, if you are reading this then God is speaking and giving a challenge to make things right. To Love, to give Grace and Mercy!!!
So, let’s wrap it up this way. When we open our mouth to speak are we speaking Life or Death? Are we speaking for or against someone? Even if it is truth, does it need to be said? Does it tear down another “child of God”? Does it edify? If it doesn’t do any of those things, then is it Slander? And the word says put away ALL!!! Not some, but ALL!!! Not in “some” cases, but in ALL cases!!!
I pray this challenges ALL of us to elevate our standards as believers. To weigh our words and actions. To examine our relationships and seek the Lord for His wisdom. It’s always easier to walk away than it is to fight. It’s easier to find another relationship. Let’s not be a part of the statistics, let’s be a part of the change.
There is so much more to say, but for now, let’s ponder this ONE thing!!!