"Why do you listen when men say, `David is bent on harming you?'" 1 Samuel 24:9; "Brothers, do not slander one another" (James 4:11).The accusers of the brethren abound. "Why do you listen when men say...?" We are not even to lend an ear to another's vicious tongue. "When will talkers refrain from evil speaking? When listeners refrain from evil hearing" (Hare).For what comfort it can give us, even Jesus was maligned. He was accused of :1) keeping bad company: "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors?" (Matthew 9:11); 2) gluttony and drunkenness: "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Here is a glutton and a drunkard" (Matthew 11:19); 3) of blasphemy: "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses?" (Matthew 26:65); 4) insanity: "When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, `He is out of his mind'" (Mark 3:21); 5) being possessed: "`You are demon-possessed,' the crowd answered" (John 7:20); 6) breaking the Sabbath: "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath" (John 9:16); 7) treason: "Anyone who claims to be king opposed Caesar" (John 10:20).In the dark of present-day inclinations to do in every public figure, Joseph Addison's comment is quite interesting: "There is nothing that more betrays a base ungenerous spirit than the giving of secret stabs to a man's reputation. Lampoons and satires, that are written with wit and spirit, are like poisoned darts, which not only inflict a wound, but make it incurable."Ben Jonson said that "we cut men's throats with whisperings." A person bleeds when another repeatedly punctures his or her reputation. What else can we expect? "But he who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity" (Proverbs 21:23). He also keeps another from tragedy.
_________________Patricia Erwin Nordman