Slander is to speak something untrue of another individual and it is a common way for believers to hurt those who they don't agree with. Recently I was intrigued by an interview with a well known evangelical leader, Francis Chan, who talked about the things that he had heard over the years about other Christian leaders, repeated those things to others and now has found many of them to be untrue.
This is what Jesus says about slander. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." Matthew 15:19. To slander is to lie, besmirch the reputation of another. If, as Jesus says, we will held accountable for every word we speak, many of us will be sorry for words we have said about people we don't know based on information we have heard second and third hand.
Think of gossip we hear and repeat. Think of innuendos we drop about other people. Think about assumptions we make about people based on things we have heard or assume but do not personally know. When you think about it, each of us have been guilty of slander! It is so easy to assume that which we don't know, pass on that which we have heard but have no personal knowledge of and make statements to others which have no basis in fact. And it destroys the reputation of others.
If you want examples of this, look no further than social media, or think about information you are told by friends or acquaintances about others. Think about those things we tell others about people we don't like. Things meant to hurt their reputation. Things meant to pull you into their (or our) unhappy or bitter orbit. We love to hurt those we don't like and we do so with sharing information meant to hurt their reputation. If you have been on the receiving end you know how painful it is.
What is the Jesus way? Consider these words from Paul in Ephesians 4:29-32. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
TOV is the Greek word for goodness. A church called TOV is making the rounds in evangelical circles and is long overdue. One of the practices of a TOV congregation is that we don't slander others, speak the truth and those things that build others up. Think of the pain that would be avoided and the culture that would be developed if we simply lived by the words of Paul. Or Jesus.
A person of goodness does not slander to speak to issues they don't know of. They don't repeat information that they are not clear on. They build others up and resist tearing them down.