The north wind brings forth rain,
and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
The slanderer and backbiter are character assassins and murderers of a person’s good name and reputation. These offenses are a clear violation, by extension, of the sixth commandment—"Thou shalt not kill." The slanderer hurts more than his immediate prey, he also hurts himself and his hearers. If you are approached by someone with slander on their tongue, you have every right to fend them off with godly anger.
This proverb teaches us that the best way to stop slander is with an angry look with perhaps a few words of rebuke added. We are clearly not to stand passively and absorb the poison from another’s lips. Our passivity can indicate agreement and only serves to encourage further slander. It is even better to direct the slanderer to their intended victim and force the backbiter to face his target. That usually ends the slander quickly.
Whatever your approach, always seek reconciliation and truth, and never allow division and lies to win the field.
If you are tempted to backbite, do two things. First, resolve in advance to say only those things that are true, kind, and necessary. George Washington had a saying, "When it is not necessary to speak, it is necessary not to speak." That lip freeze alone can save us from many troubles.
Second, if you are tempted to say unkind things about others, then express them to God instead. The psalmists took their complaints and offenses to God and laid them before him. We have that same privilege, and it can do much less harm than fruitlessly and hurtfully telling others.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Pat Canavan. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org