“But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me.” Psalm 35:15-16 NIV
Slander (and of course its written counterpart, libel) is a particularly malicious kind of gossip. It is not just unkind, it is deeply damaging. It is like a violation of our personal integrity, an attack on us and on the truth. It is an action devoid of all compassion and empathy, where the mocker ridicules and lies about someone, usually someone defenceless, the charges being hard to prove. Slander is a notoriously difficult issue to settle fairly in court, as hearsay and reputation are difficult to discount or protect, and the root of lies is so slippery.
When we are being spoken about unjustly, and judged harshly, that is bad enough, but to have people actually enjoying maligning us is beyond horrid. Sadly, it happens every day in our culture of celebrity, where the media builds people up only to enjoy making them crash to the ground again. It seems we are rarely taught to think of the consequences of our actions or our hurtful words. As long as the lies are entertaining, they seem justified as a diversion, never mind whether they are true or not.
Our God is a God of truth. He is integrity, wholeness, beauty, goodness and holiness. He teaches us that the truth will set us free, even when it hurts. Lying, to others, about others, to ourselves or him, gets us nowhere. He also knows what it is like to be lied about. People slander and insult God every day. He is mocked in words and actions constantly. His goodness and his very existence are doubted and his creation defiled. He knows what it is like to be spat upon by mockers and yet he still insists that we forgive them, as we are counselled to forgive every sin committed against us.
Paul commends himself and his ministry team for enduring “through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;” 2 Corinthians 6: 8 ESV
Slander is from the father of lies and is unsurprisingly used against those who would follow his enemy. But we are in good company when we are ridiculed and hurt, and our Lord will help us through as we emulate his steadfastness and his gentle insistence on the truth.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37 NIV
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