Have you ever been talked about? And later found out about it? It's painful stuff.
I've been the victim and I've also been the perpetrator.
God's word is very clear about what He thinks about gossip and slander. He calls it sin. And tells us to put it away from us.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away form you, along with all malice.
Paul takes it a step farther and says that our words should be timely and profitable for the moment. Our words should impart grace. Not malice.
The real kicker is the original Greek word used for slander. Are you ready? It's blasphemia which is where we get our English word "blasphemy". Strong's Lexical Aids to the New Testament defines it as abuse against someone and denotes wounding one's reputation by evil reports.
In these verses, Paul is drawing stark contrasts between our new nature in Christ and the old nature characterized by darkness. And he encourages us to walk in light of the new nature purchased for us by Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
I know firsthand how frighteningly easy it is to slip into this. Not even fifteen minutes ago, I slipped.
Father, this is all fresh in my mind and heart. I just maligned someone with my words. They tumbled out of my mouth so effortlessly that they must be embedded in my heart. For Jesus said, "out of the mouth the heart speaks"(Luke 6:45) Lord, my heart needs cleansing. Forgive my mean words, Lord. Create in me a clean heart. O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
Father, You say that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? But You search the heart and test the mind.(Jeremiah 17:9) Search my heart, Lord. Obviously there is junk there that I'm not even aware of. Lord, there's hurt there too. Often the hurt is what causes me to seek revenge through my words - maligning the person that hurt me. It's like a kind of retribution. Forgive me, Lord. Vengeance is Yours, O God. (Deuteronomy 32:35) I release this person to You. Remove any root of bitterness that I might be harboring so that I don't fall into gossip again.
Father, I pray that no unwholesome word would proceed from my mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. I pray that I would be tender-hearted, forgiving others just as You, O God, in Christ have forgiven me. In Jesus' name, Amen.
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you struggle to find the words to pray.