Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the Lord.

Psalm 15:1 Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.

Proverbs 10:18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

Proverbs 11:9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 16:28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.

James 4:11a Speak not evil one of another, brethren.


MEMORY VERSE: If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. —James 1:26


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Tale-bearing, slander, grievous and harsh words not only destroy souls and bring about strife between the brethren, but are reproved by the Lord, not allowed in His tabernacle (church), and are the mark of a hypocrite, whose religion is vain.




Leviticus 19:16 “Go up and down as a talebearer”: This refers to a peddler who goes around selling his wares. A scandal-monger; informer; slanderer. “Stand against the blood of thy neighbor”: “Either, to put his life in danger by standing up as his accuser (compare Matthew 26:60); or, to stand by idly when thy neighbor’s life is in danger” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).

Psalm 15:3 “Backbiteth”: To go about on foot, as a spy, or to circulate unfavorable reports about others and privately, secretly behind their backs destroy their credit or reputation. “Reproach”: “The Hebrew word has a striking derivation. Properly, the stripping of the trees of autumn fruit; so, stripping honour and reputation from a person” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers). “Does not raise any scandalous report on him himself, nor will he bear to hear one from another, much less will he spread one; nor will he suffer one to lie upon his neighbour, but will do all he can to vindicate him, and clear his character” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible). “Nor doeth evil”: any hurt or injury. “Neighbour”: The word neighbor in this part of the verse refers to a close friend or companion. The second neighbor refers to someone who resides near you. The scriptures frequently signify “every man,” even strangers or heathen, by the use of this word.

Proverbs 10:18 “He that hideth hatred”: Someone “who pretends to be a friend and outwardly behaves as one, but inwardly nourishes and cherishes hatred in his heart, which he covers and conceals, till he has proper opportunity of showing it” (Gill’s), as Judas Iscariot did to Jesus.

Proverbs 15:1 “Grievous”: painful toil, hurt, or sorrow. This word comes from a word picturing an earthen vessel or idol, which was fashioned, then broken or shattered.

Ephesians 4:29 “Corrupt communication”: rotten; useless; worthless; depraved thoughts expressed in words or speech.

Ephesians 4:31 “Clamour”: loud cry; shriek; scream.




It is clear from these scriptures that the tongue is the instrument satan uses to divide brethren and destroy precious souls. It holds the power of death and life. A great emphasis is placed on the evils of tale-bearing. There is also much mentioned about flattery. Proper balance is needed: on one hand, we are not to gloss over evil with flattery, but to give proper reproof when it is needed. On the other, we are not to spread abroad our brother’s faults and failings, but cover them with charity.

Other scriptures inform us that the tongue can be a wellspring of wisdom; a tree of life, righteousness and health. A wise person’s words are gracious, spoken in season, fitly spoken, forcible, seasoned with salt and edifying. Jesus gave us the solemn warning that our words will either justify or condemn us in the day of judgment. We will give an account for every idle word, He says, for our words reveal the abundance, or what overflows out of our hearts.

James mentions much about the tongue, especially in the third chapter. He reminds us that an unbridled tongue makes our profession of religion ENTIRELY VAIN! What a solemn warning!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck



1. Entrance Denied: Where am I not allowed if I am a tale-bearer or a backbiter?

2. Call It What It Is: If I slander or destroy another with my words, I am called a ____________ and a ____________.

3. No-no’s: List the kinds of communication forbidden by the scriptures.




Words that sow strife and separate brethren; grievous words that shatter hearts and cause pain and anger; screams of impatience and anger; insincere flattery that hides malicious backbiting; words that strip another of his reputation or lay his weaknesses bare; harsh words that judge or condemn—these all overflow from hearts full of superiority, pride, malice, envy, and dishonesty. The Bible is clear: people who do these things may be among the people of God, but they are not in the body. They are not part of God’s church— His tabernacle; His holy hill. They are noxious weeds growing in the field of the world, evil trees that are not His planting. They are professors of a vain religion.

Jesus gave the answer: an axe laid at the root of the tree. Genuine repentance and His Holy Spirit to thoroughly purge His threshing floor of ungodly weeds and chaff. If we profess salvation and really want to do God’s will, but have found ourselves coming short in this area, God is merciful to give us space to repent. Let us seek Him earnestly to cleanse our hearts and fill us with His Spirit so the abundance of our hearts—and the words from our mouths—would only be holiness and peace.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




I am intrigued by how often people get themselves into trouble by the things they say in a forum such as Twitter or Facebook. We consistently hear of those who have had to apologize or retract statements they’ve made simply because they did not understand the effect their words would have on those who would consume them. Speaking evil is not simply about the words spoken but also the context in which they are spoken, the timing as well as the motivation.

What is said may appear innocent enough but some words can have meaning that goes far beyond their dictionary definition. They can have attached to them, a history that ignites controversy and brings pain to its targeted audience. There can be innuendos and biases tucked surreptitiously into casual phrases. So not only must we refrain from speaking evil but we must shun even the appearance of doing so.

We must also understand that our words are not independent of our thoughts and our thoughts are not independent of our actions. If we speak evil of our fellow man or even think evil of them, we will act accordingly. And no amount of self-restraint can prevent our true feelings from eventually seeping into our actions though it may be subtle and virtually imperceptible.

As Christians, our words must be fitly spoken, both in private as well as in public. Now more than ever we need to show forth the love of Christ to our fellow men, not speak evil of them. We must ask the Lord to search our lives, our ideas and philosophies. We must seek the Lord to purge and purify our hearts and align our thoughts to that of the Holy Spirit.

If we can’t say something nice about our fellow man, it is indeed in our best interest to not say anything at all. For the scripture tells us that by our words we shall be justified and by our words we shall be condemned.

—Bro. Darrell Johnson