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Dr. Henry Waiters: Gossiping and backbiting

Henry Waiters, ThD

The ninth commandment says, “Thou halt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (Ex. 20:16). The evident object of this commandment is to guard the rights, interests and reputation of our neighbor, by guarding our conversation and confining our words to that which is strictly true.
When the soldiers asked John the Baptist for advice regarding the way of life, “And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:14
James suggests one test of a perfect man: “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2
Jesus taught the importance of guarding our speech: “But I say unto you, that every idle work that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by the words thou shalt be justified, and by the words thou shalt be condemned.” Matt. 12:36-37
All of our words are known to God. “For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.” Ps. 139:4
One’s words are an index of “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Matt. 12:34
The Scriptures prohibit such conduct: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor; I am the Lord.” Lev. 19:16
“The words of a talebearer are as wounds.” Prov. 26:22
The effects are: “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” Prov. 17:9
If there were no talebearers: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out; so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” Prov. 26:20
Paul feared he would find much in the Corinthian church that he despised. “For I fear, lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults.” 2 Cor. 12:20
There are results that follow backbiting and like evils: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another take heed that you be not consumed one of another.” Gal. 5:14-15
A backbiting tongue may be rebuked: “The north wind driveth away rain; so do an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” Prov.25: 23
A promise of abiding in the tabernacle of the Lord, and dwelling in His holy hill is made to “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.” Ps. 15:2-3
Noah Webster said, “We should say nothing of a person in his absence that we should be unwilling to say if he were present.” Too few govern their conversation according to this rule.
Caution is given in regard to receiving an accusation against an elder: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” 1 Tim. 5:19
The Greek dramatist Menander says “He that lends an easy and credulous ear to calumny (false and malicious accusations) is either a man of very mean morals, or has no more sense of understanding than a child.”
No man, unrenewed by God’s grace, can control his tongue: “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind; but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7-8
We should always pray for a guard against the misuse of the power of speech: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth keep the door of my lips.” Ps. 141:3
David vowed again offenses of the tongue: “I said, I will take heed of my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.” Ps. 39:1
A sure cure for backbiting: “Thous shalt love they neighbor as thyself” Matt 22:39 and “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Matt 7:12
Words that are fitly spoken: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of good in pictures of silver.” Prov. 25:11
Today, truth, honesty and respect seem to be unnecessary items in today’s discourse. If these natural obligations are to be maintained, they will have to trickle up; they definitely cannot trickle down.
Consequences: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But be fearful, unbelieving abominable murderers, whore mongers, sorcerers, idolaters and liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” Rev. 21:7-8

Dr. Waiters can be reached at 704-636-3369.

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