search shopping-cart mobile facebook2 twitter menu triangle-down mobile mic feed
search menu shopping-cart full-cart cross

Why We Need to Stop Tearing One Another Down with Our Words

Words_2000x600
By
  • Chip Ingram

September 6, 2017

  • Christian Living
  • New
  • Relationships

Has anyone ever criticized you or wrongly accused you of something? Maybe behind your back?

How did it make you feel? What happened to the relationship?

Few things have the power to ruin a relationship like critical, inaccurate, hostile or even slanderous words. 

The scriptures commands us to stop tearing one another down by our "slanderous" speech.

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12, NIV)

What is slanderous speech?

To slander means to say something untrue. But the original verb James uses in this scripture passage goes further and also implies a tone of speech that tears a person down.

How do we practice slanderous speech? I think of it in three degrees.

"First-degree slander": This is unconscious - and common - criticism. "Boy, that worship music was loud, wasn't it?" "Someone should tell Ethel that dress doesn't work for her figure."

"Second-degree slander": This often occurs in the form of prayer requests and sharing information under the guise of wanting to help someone. But it's really just gossip — which is passing along information that you haven't verified in a situation in which you aren’t a participant or solution.

"Third-degree slander" : This is when you act like you're asking for help with a relationship. But actually, you’re just framing the problem from your perspective so you'll look good and the other person will look bad.

James says stop it.

Here’s one big reason Christians get caught in the "web" of speaking against others. We buy the lie that if only the other person would shape up, my life would improve .

“The problem is my wife; it's not me.”

“The problem is my boss; it's not me.”

“The problem is the church; it's not me.”

Does this sound familiar? When I find myself doing this, it's often to cast blame and avoid responsibility. Or it's to justify my behavior. Or I'm afraid I'm going to be rejected and the best defense is an offense so you put down the person first. It's to mask my insecurity. (And we're ALL insecure!) And then there’s the effort to get people on my side and look good, in case there’s conflict.

Again, James says stop it.

Tearing others down by our speech and judgmental attitudes is one of the most serious sins mentioned in Scripture. Why?

Because it demonstrates total disregard and contempt for God's highest command: to love one another (Leviticus 19:18, James 2:8). And because it reveals that we are in fact "playing God."

We need to break that habit! Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Develop convictions about speaking against others. (Matthew 7:1-2 and Matthew 12:36-37)
  • Step 2: Ponder the consequences of your speech. (John 13:34-35)
  • Step 3: Refuse to buy the lie! (Romans 2:3)
  • Step 4: Refuse to let others gossip.
  • Step 5: Talk less !

Lastly, ask yourself this question: Is there anyone you've gossiped against that you need to apologize to?

For more information on this topic, take a look at Chip's series Five Lies that Ruin Relationships, How to Change for the Better, as well as Overcoming Emotions that Destroy.

About Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram is the senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California, and teaching pastor and president of Living on the Edge. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of 15 books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and eleven grandchildren.

More Articles by Chip Ingram

More Blog Posts


FreeGroupLeaderCourse_600x350
Sharpen Your Online Leader Skills with Free Online Course
By Lance Witt

If you're new to leading groups or want to sharpen your skills, this course is for you.

Continue reading
God's Power and Our Preparation: An Interview with Francis Chan
By Summer Armentrout

If you’re a ministry leader or pastor, you’re probably already aware that preparation is key.

Continue reading
LionintheWild_600x350
A Lion in the Wild

By Ryan Ingram

As a kid I loved lions. Still do. In fact my nickname as child was Ryan the Lion.

Continue reading

Helping You Disciple Others


WebinarwithJimBlazin_600x350
Webinar for Group Leaders
"Listening Skills for Group Leaders"

May 18: Chip Ingram & Jim Blazen

Experience Spiritual Growth
With Small Group Studies From Chip Ingram

Choose from more than 20 life-changing studies.

×

Enable Downloads

Please provide the information below.