Bad-mouthing Your Neighbor Prov. 11: 9-12 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
There are Christians who, with their mouths, attempt to disparage their neighbors. The Proverbs have much to say about this problem. So, we are going to study it carefully today with this purpose in mind. If you are one of those who say things about your neighbor and repeat things about your neighbor, you must understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. Then, hopefully, after you see what the Bible has to say about what you are doing, you will stop it.
You bad-mouth your neighbor because:
You are a hypocrite – Prov 11:9 – in other words, whether you realize this or not, you are tearing down your neighbor to hide your own sin. The Pharisees accused Jesus Christ of breaking the sabbath, over and over again. At his triumphal entry, he went into the temple on the sabbath before his crucifixion and caught the Pharisees red-handed breaking the sabbath. They tried to destroy him with their mouths because they were guilty. When you say things against your neighbor, you are revealing your own hypocrisy. You’re covering up something about yourself.
You are void of wisdom – Prov 11:12 – men who have wisdom understand that there is no cause for or benefit in bad-mouthing another person. A man of understanding holdeth his peace. What’s to be gained by tearing down your neighbor?
You are a talebearer – Prov 11:13 – you are just spreading gossip, telling tales. You may not even know whether what you are saying is true or not. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. It is a secret you are revealing. You’re like the person who wants to be the first one to “break the news.” Let me tell you about talebearers. Talebearers:
- Are not faithful – Prov 11:13. Men and women with faithful spirits conceal the matter. Talebearers aren’t faithful; they can’t keep a secret.
- Are bullies – Prov 18:8. Instead of using their fists and leaving visible bruises, they use their mouths and leave scars deep inside their neighbors.
- Are often slanderers – Prov 25:18. If what they are repeating or saying is not 100% true, they are bearing false witness against their neighbor. They are breaking the 9th commandment. And they are doing it with malice and intent to harm. They are a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.” These are all deadly weapons. A maul is like a sledgehammer.
- Are flatterers – Prov 20:19. This is a warning to the wary. Watch out for a man or a woman who flatters you. They are spreading a net for your feet [Prov 29:5]. Hopefully, the Lord will “smoke out” a few talebearers with this description so that you don’t get caught by them and torn to pieces later.
You are ungodly – Prov 16:27 – if you are looking for smut on someone so that you can’t spread it, you are ungodly. I knew a couple of men who used to dig through peoples’ pasts so that they could air out their dirty laundry in public. They seemed to delight in “getting the goods” on people so that they could destroy their reputations. Like the froward man in Prov 16:28 they were sowing strife and separating chief friends. That’s not the work of the Holy Spirit. That’s the work of the devil. That’s why the Bible calls them “ungodly.” Prov 17:9 says that he that covereth a transgression seeketh love. Reminds you of charity, doesn’t it?
You are contentious – Prov 26:20-28 – you kindle strife and cause problems with people. You have “burning lips.” In fact, you hate the people you talk against. You have an abominable heart. You have a lying tongue. If the truth isn’t “bad” enough, you embellish the story.
Conclusion: What should you do if you have discovered that you have been bad-mouthing your neighbor and now you are under conviction? Hold your peace [Prov 11:12-13]. Hush. Quit talking about them. You say, but what if the problem needs to be addressed? Then debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another [Prov 25:9-10]. You may be getting more worked up than you ought to be. If that’s the case, let it go [Prov 30:32-33].