Morning, November 29, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening
“You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people … you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.” — Leviticus 19:16-17
Slander and gossip emit a threefold poison; for they injure the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report is true or false, we are forbidden to spread it by this precept of God’s Word. The reputations of the Lord’s people should be very precious in our sight, and we should consider it shameful to help the devil to dishonor the Church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. Many take pleasure in pulling down their fellow Christians, as if in doing so they raised up themselves. Noah’s wise sons cast a mantle over their father, but he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. One of these dark days we ourselves may need tolerance and silence from our fellow Christians; let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Let this be our family rule, and our personal pledge: Speak evil of no man.
The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to disapprove of sin, and prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by reprimanding our brother to his face, not by criticizing behind his back. This course is mature, brotherly, Christlike, and will be useful under God’s blessing. Does our nature shrink from it? Then we must lay the greater emphasis upon our conscience, and keep ourselves to the work, lest by tolerating sin in our friend we become ourselves accomplices of it. Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings of faithful ministers and fellow Christians. Our Lord Jesus has set us a gracious example of how to deal with stumbling friends in his warning given to Peter, the prayer with which he preceded it, and the gentle way in which he bore with Peter’s boastful denial that he needed such a warning.