By Guest Writer Jim Lyons
Several years ago, I was notified by mail that my personal identity had been stolen. Identity thieves were able to gain access to my health care provider’s database and steal my name, date of birth, and social security number. This theft not only affected me but 800,000 others! A lapse within the provider’s database allowed identity thieves to steal the personal information of thousands to bring personal and financial ruin to those who were scrambling to protect themselves.
Through this incident, I learned two, important truths.
The first was that I cannot control what others do to me. It’s a part of life. We live in a broken, sinful world; and people will do evil things. My only recourse was to pray that God would apprehend these thieves and also protect 800,000 people from becoming victims of criminal activity.
The second truth was more profound. I had to personally ask myself if I was an ‘identity thief’. You see, identity theft doesn’t always occur within cyberspace – it can occur within our mouths when there is a security breach within our hearts. I’m talking about slander. I had to search my heart and ask myself how often I have allowed a lapse of my tongue to occur in the presence of others to ‘steal’ another person’s good name and character. Friends, our words matter, and they are a reflection of our hearts.
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander. These are what defile a person.”
Matthew 15:19-20 (ESV)
“There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)
As these verses show, the LORD hates slander. And so does the Apostle Paul.
“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 from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:30-32 (ESV)
Identity theft, through our mouths, is a grievous sin. It causes physical and spiritual pain to those who become its victims.
Lois Tverberg wisely wrote,
“Lashon hará [slander] doesn’t just include telling lies about others. In fact, this phrase is more commonly used to describe the practice of telling negative truths about others that are unnecessary and damaging. Often lashon hara is compared to murder: “A slanderer stands in Damascus, but kills in Rome.” Defamatory statements are like Patriot missiles, computer-guided bombs programmed to annihilate their targets at long distances. The victim doesn’t even realize who the cowardly perpetrator is.”
In these difficult times we face, it is easy for us to lash out with our words towards our government leaders and our closest neighbors. I will admit that this has not been an easy devotional to write. It’s been painful because I know that I have been participating in lashon hara – the slander of others. And if we are honest with ourselves, we would all agree that we have done the same. Slander has no place in the Christian life. So what can we do to stop this from occurring? Where do we start?
First, we must CONFESS OUR SIN OF SLANDER. We are to go to the LORD and call our sin by its name. We are to make no excuses. And then know that Jesus Christ gave His life for this sin and that through His blood and sacrifice on the cross, we can find forgiveness, healing, and restoration. Read 1 John 1:8-9 for encouragement.
Second, we must PRAY FOR A ‘KOSHER’ MOUTH. These verses can help guard our tongues as we converse with others. Write them on your hearts so you will have them with you always.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14 (ESV)
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
Proverbs 13:3 (ESV)
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
James 1:19 (ESV)
By doing these two things daily, our lives will be transformed, our speech will be sweetened, and God will be glorified.
Blessings to you all.
 Tverberg, Lois, “Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus”, pages 96-97.