Honor | Part 19 | #9: Slander and Gossip 19 May

Gossip and slander are not usually associated with the 9th commandment, but their part of the problem. How do we avoid gossip and slander? #GCHonor

9th Commandment: “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.”
Exodus 20:16 NLT

Today’s topic: Slander & Gossip

Slander/Gossip is (maybe?):
• When you talk about someone behind their back
• When you speak badly about a person’s character to negatively change someone’s perception of him/her
• When you insult someone or hurt their feelings
• Not a big deal, man!

(Example) Ethel is:
• Talking about Ben behind his back.
• Speaking badly about Ben’s character to negatively change Nancy’s perception of him.
• Insulting Ben and hurting his feelings.
• Surely guilty of slander and gossip!

(Example) Tara’s Parents are:
• Talking about Kevin behind his back.
• Speaking badly about Kevin’s character to negatively change Tara’s perception of him.
• Insulting Kevin and hurting his feelings.
• Possibly guilty of slander and gossip???

We need definitions!
• How can we cut out bad behaviors if we don’t know what to cut?
• What even is slander or gossip?
• Are they really so bad?


But first… Can God sin? No.
(See: Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 1:5, 1 John 3:5)

Slander/Gossip is (NOT!):
• When you talk about someone behind their back
• When you speak badly about a person’s character to negatively change someone’s perception of him/her
• When you insult someone or hurt their feelings
• Not a big deal, man!

• Gossip is when you tarnish someone’s reputation behind their back.
“God never did that!”

He totally did! Matthew 16:4-6

• Slander is when you defame a person’s character to negatively change someone’s perception of him/her.
“God never did that!”

He totally did! Matthew 23:1-34

• Slander is when you insult someone or hurt someone’s feelings.
“God never did that!”

He totally did! John 8:31-47

• Slander is when you mock someone.
“God never did that!”

He totally did! Psalm 2:4

“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them.”
Psalm 2:4 CSB

Finding the definitions:
• Jeff searched the entire Bible, in multiple translations, for every use of “slander” and “gossip”.
• Jeff studied the Hebrew or Greek texts to learn the original meanings behind the translations.

• 13 Greek words
• 29 Hebrew words
• 11 Hebrew phrases

To bring, with malicious intent, a false, defamatory accusation against someone for the purpose of publicly disgracing them; to invent and announce a deceitful rumor intended to injure or destroy the victim’s reputation, and then taking pleasure in the ensuing damage.

Gossip, a set of two connected behaviors:
1. First, to pose deceitfully as an innocent friend in order to gather accusations, complaints, defamation, evil reports, scandals, or guarded secrets (“morsels”, Proverbs 18:8).
2. Second, to (immediately make plans to) share those morsels with others secretively for the purpose of injuring or destroying the victim’s reputation, and then taking pleasure in the ensuing damage.

Slander and Gossip:
• They’re very similar crimes.
– Slander is public; gossip is secretive.
– The goal is the same: to destroy a person’s name and reputation.
• They both involve false testimony.

Let’s revisit those previous examples:

Ethel: Guilty!
• Her intent was malicious; she wanted to defame Ben.
• Her claims were not true.
• This is clearly a habit because she “had to tell” Nancy.

Parents: Not Guilty!
• Their intent was not malicious; they were protecting Tara.
• Their claims were true.
• This is not a habit.

Jesus: Not Guilty!
• His intent was not malicious; He was protecting His followers from false teaching.
• All His accusations were 100% true.
• Jesus never posed deceitfully as a friend of the Pharisees.

Why do we do it?
• Comparison
• Competition
• Poor self-image
• “Don’t look at me! Look at her!” (Deflection)

The leaves of the tree:
• Comparison
• Competition
• Deflection
• Poor self-image

The root of the tree:
• One motivation

Why do we do it?
• Contempt (hate, or lack of love for our neighbor)

Aren’t these just “minor” sins? No.
1 Corinthians 6:9b-10 NIV

Is Paul being overdramatic? No.
Psalm 101:5 NIV
Proverbs 16:28 NIV
Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV

Gossips and Slanderers:
1. Have haughty eyes (Psalm 101:5)
2. Are liars (Biblical definitions)
3. Destroy the innocent (Biblical definitions)
4. Invent wicked schemes (Biblical definitions)
5. Rush to do evil (Biblical definitions)
6. Are false witnesses (Biblical definitions)
7. Stir up conflict (Proverbs 16:28)


What’s next?
• A practical reason why God hates slander.
• A practical reason why God hates gossip.
• My word study led me to an unexpected conclusion.

Why might God HATE slander?
• Think about your own child (if someone slandered them?)

Why might God HATE gossip?
• The Telephone Game (it always changes).

“Aven” – premeditated and escalating wickedness

(Example) Mary and Tom had…
… an argument (no, a physical altercation!)
… in front of the kids!
… and they’re getting divorced!

It’s hard to defend against:
“That never happened!”
“Sounds like something a guilty person would say!”

Why might God HATE gossip?
• It creates injustice.

What did my word study teach me?
• Slander and Gossip are equivalent to: Murder
Matthew 15:18-19 NLT

The leaves:
• Slander
• Murder

The root:
• Contempt
Matthew 5:21-22 NLT
Matthew 12:36 NLT
Genesis 9:5 NLT

Gossip and slander are attempted spiritual murder.

We have to stop!
We have to kill the root!


Strategies to stop slander and gossip:
• For the active participant:
– Remember God’s grace.

“But for the grace of God, there go I.”
—John Bradford (disputed)

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked.”
Jeremiah 17:9a NLT


“No, that could NEVER be me!”

“If God’s grace upon my life had been ANY different…”

“Were it not for God’s grace, could that be ME?”


We cannot be passive: No, thanks. I’ll just watch.
Leviticus 19:16 NLT


Strategies to stop slander and gossip:
• For the passive participant:
– Politely decline to take part.


Two “exceptions”:
1. When a person’s life or well-being are in danger, it is permissible to warn them of someone’s bad character.
2. Getting wise counsel will likely involve sharing defamation.

Slander and gossip are deadly serious for the victim and the perpetrator.

For the victims:
• It’s not on you to refute it; it’s on them to prove it.
• Put your honor in God’s hands and trust that He will vindicate you.
1 Peter 2:21-23 NLT
Psalm 25:1-3
Romans 12:19

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14 NLT







Start reading.

Key Scripture:

Exodus 20:16 (NLT)

16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

Proverbs 18:8 (NLT)

8 Rumors are dainty morsels

      that sink deep into one’s heart.

Luke 6:45 (NLT)

45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Matthew 16:1-12 (NLT)

Matthew 23:1-36 (NLT)

Ephesians 4:31–32 (NLT)

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

1 Peter 2:21–23 (NLT)

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

    22 He never sinned,

      nor ever deceived anyone.

    23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,

      nor threaten revenge when he suffered.

    He left his case in the hands of God,

      who always judges fairly.

Start talking. Find a conversation starter for your group.

  • What’s the most surprising or funny rumor you ever heard about yourself or someone else? How did you react when you found out the truth?

Start sharing. These questions are to help get your group thinking and to create openness.

  • What does it mean to “not testify falsely against your neighbor” in the context of slander and gossip?
  • What strategies did the sermon suggest for overcoming the temptation to gossip or slander? How can you apply these strategies in your own life?
  • According to Jeff, what are the key differences between slander and gossip? Why are both considered harmful and sinful?
  • Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” Why do you think gossip is so enticing, and what does this verse reveal about its impact on us?
  • Read Luke 6:45. Do you agree with this passage? Why or why not?
  • Discuss the examples of Jesus in Matthew 16 and Matthew 23. How did Jesus’s actions differ from slander and gossip, despite Him speaking negatively about the Pharisees?
  • Do we have this same capacity to rightfully assess and criticize the behavior and intention of others and then to share that information publicly or privately?
  • How should we respond if we are victims of gossip or slander, according to Ephesians 4:31-32 and 1 Peter 2:21-23?

Start doing. Commit to a step and live it out this week.

  • Be intentional and mindful this week to guard against gossip or slander in your interactions with others.

Start praying. Be bold and pray with power.

  • Lord, help us to guard our tongues and speak only what is true, kind, and helpful. Give us the strength to resist the temptation to gossip or slander, and fill our hearts with love and compassion for others. May our words bring glory to You and build up those around us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Start digging. For further study.


Jeff Lindholm

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