Responding Properly to Backbiting

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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In October of 2013, twelve-year-old Rebecca of Lakeland, Florida, took her life after being bullied by several other teens. A series of events, including malicious cyber messages to and about Rebecca drove her to a tragic end. Even after her death, one of the girls callously admitted she had bullied Rebecca, bragged about it and stated, in crass terms, that she couldn’t care less about what happened.

While the above might sound shocking, it has become commonplace in our society. In fact, in different degrees, it is common even in Christian circles. Believers of all ages allow themselves to participate in verbal bullying and many of us enable perpetrators by listening to things that should never be spoken. The Bible gives us an answer about how every godly Christian should respond to vicious words spoken against someone else.

God tells us in Proverbs 25:23: “The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” The word backbiting means to attack the character or reputation of a person who is not present or, to speak slanderously of one who is absent. Oftentimes one who is backbiting is given an ear with the rationalization that the perpetrator is a friend, needs a sounding board because they are hurting, or needs counsel. But such concepts are contrary to the instruction of God’s Word. Malicious talk about someone who is not present doesn’t seek to solve the problem. It is an exercise to sin. Our response should be to let the guilty party know with certainty that it is wrong, and we want no part of such conduct. In II Corinthians 12:20-21, the Apostle Paul warned he would give an even stronger response to those who backbite or slander another. He would publicly “bewail many.” What do you think? Would confronting the backbiter in God’s way deter such sinful actions and perhaps aid in the health of the local church?

If you have been guilty of backbiting another, this is your opportunity to glorify your Savior. We suggest you stop this action immediately and, whether past or present, apologize, without excuse, to the one you victimized. When you hear backbiting, choose to respond as instructed above. We can either be the problem or the solution. From this point on, which will you be?

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

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