Speak Evil of No Man

by T.J. Allen. The Bible Advocate, February 8, 1937

Do we as Christians really understand the true meaning of this scripture? Evil speaking is not always telling things about an individual which are slanderous and untrue, or exaggerating their short-comings, but it may ne as true as anything can possibly be, and yet the saying of it to others is evil speaking.

Evil speaking is speaking evil of an individual who is not present. It is relating something evil, or that which was said about someone who is not present when you relate it. Suppose you see your neighbor angry, and hear him swear, and you tell it to his friends, or his enemies when he is absent; you are speaking evil of him. If this information is told in a friendly quiet manner with expressions of good will to the person guilty, and with a hope that it may not be as bad as you think, it is still evil speaking.  If it is told in a confidential and whispering voice, with the warning to your hearers not to repeat it , it is the same evil speaking. Whether this man of whom you speak is a Christian, or an atheist makes no difference as far as your sin is concerned. If you speak evil of him you are disregarding the command “speak evil of no man.” If we tell the faults of an individual to a third party when he or she is not present, we are speaking evil. Worse yet, is it to exaggerate what you have heard, and add to the already slanderous gossip.

This habit of evil speaking is extremely common among all classes of human beings. It is also one of the attributes of satan. And by engaging in evil speaking, you are yielding to satan. “If any man offend not in word the same is a perfect man and able to bridle the whole body. Behold we put bits in the horses mouths that they may obey us: and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the shops which though they are so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about by a very small helm wherever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.” James 3:2-5.  “Therewith bless we God even the Father, and therewith curse we men which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren these thigs out not so to be.” James 9:9, 10.

“I am innocent in the matter.” The writer of this article must confess that he has not been immune from this sin. How natural it is for the human heart. The popularity of this offence makes it difficult to avoid. We hear it on every side, and are often victims ourselves of the same treatment. We must guard against it continuously, or we will insensibly slide into the habit. If we engage the habit of evil speaking, we soon find that it will gratify our pride to relate the faults of others, whereof we feel that we are not guilty.

Evil speaking frequently comes to us in disguise. We speak out of a noble generous indignation against these vile persons. We are liable to commit sin from mere hatred of sin. We serve Satan in our zeal for righteousness . And we sometimes palm off our failures under the pretense of holiness. While we do not manufacture slander against anyone, at the same time how eager some are to circulate an adverse report especially if we do not like the person, or the individual does not like us.

But there is a way to escape from this common pit-fall. Our blessed Lord said: “if thy brother trespass against thee, go tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” Jesus said also: “Woe to the world because of offences.” “But woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.” But how can we avoid giving offences to some and being offended at others?  If people could only realize that their own words and actions are recorded in the books of heaven, and by them they will be judged at the last day, how careful they would be in speaking evil or judging others. But how often anger, resentment, and unkind words are spoken against those with whom we are displeased, Let us pray that God may give us power to control out tongues, and speak only that which is pleasing in His sight. If we find it out duty to tell on his faults, see that you do it in a meek and lowly spirit. Speak in the spirit of tender love and gentleness. Who can tell what love may conquer? “Love suffereth long and is kind.”

Be careful in approaching one whom you are going to tell of his fault. Avoid everything in look or tone of voice that show pride or arrogance or overbearing contempt. Any gesture that savors self-sufficiency will defeat your noble effort. Above all let there be no shadow of ill will or bitterness manifested. Remember that you too are under the eye of Him who is coming to judge all men, both the living and the dead.

Our duty in controlling our tongues does not rest only in speaking evil or our fellow beings, but in our entire conversation. How often we hear professed Christians using vain words. My friends, are you guilty of this sin? In anger do you say things which you are sorry for afterwards: “The poet said: “Boys flying kites haul in their white winged birds, but you can’t do that when you are flying words.”  “But I say unto you that whosoever is angry at his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Matt. 5:22.  Speaking of the coming of the Lord, Peter says in 2 Peter 3:11,  “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons out ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,”

“But I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne. Nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your conversation be yea, yea, nay, nay, for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Matt. 5:37.  Did you ever think what n influence the two little words, yes and no, have on the destiny of mankind: How different would have been the experience of many lives if the individual had only had the courage to say no, or in other causes they had said yes. How is it with you, dear reader? Are you saying yes to the invitation to surrender all to Jesus or are you grieving the Holy Spirit by saying no to this invitation. Are you saying no to the allurements of satan?

Is the standard too high? It is the standard set by the Savior. Are the broad way and the narrow way running so close together that we can travel both at the same time? No, my friends, they are as far apart as the east is from the west. For God says He will remove our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west.  “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter: Can a fig tree my brethren bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” James 3:11, 12.
It is just as impossible for us to serve both God and satan. “who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you. Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meek not against the truth.” James 3:13, 14. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.”  Ps. 50:23. “Be not deceived: evil communications, corrupt good manners.” I Cor. 15:33. ...

“Speak evil of no man.” “For by thy words shalt thou be justified and by thy words shalt thou be condemned.” Matt. 12:37.

There should be no discord between the members of the church. The early apostolic church was in harmony, one with the other. “Awe came upon everyone, and many marvels and signs were wrought by the apostles. And all the believers kept together and had everything in common.” Acts 2:43, 44.

And day by day attending daily in the temple with one accord and breaking bread at home, they took their meals with great happiness and singleheartedness praising God and being regarded with favour by all the people. Also day by day the Lord added to their number those whom He was saving. Acts 2:46, 47. ( Weymouth Ed.)

Oh! That the professed Christians of today would follow the examples of the church established by Jesus and the disciples.  “Put ye away evil speaking, tale-bearing and gossip; let none of them proceed out of your mouth. David prayed: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O Lord my strength and my redeemer.” Ps. 19:14. “For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain hi tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” I Peter 3:10.

Some items of possibly related interest my include the following:

Love and Who is My Brother? This is an article with 1/2 of the information from late CCOG deacon Richard Close. It talks about love, the ten commandments,and who are your brothers and sisters and neighbors. Here is a link a related sermon: Love Your Brother and Neighbor.

THIRD COMMANDMENT: Words Matter Are you obeying the Third Commandment? Are you sure? Could you be blaspheming with your euphemisms or life actions? Here is a link to a related sermon: Third Commandment Plus: Words Matter. Here is a link to a shorter video: Was Increased Cursing Prophesied?

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