Lips of Poison

The tongue that is quick to whisper gossip and lies, slandering in the dark, is in cahoots with the accuser of the brethren.

Satan, the hater of truth.

He licks his chops at all deceit and has spent his entire pathetic existence creating discord.

This I know.


Have you experienced gossip and slander among Christians? In your church?

I have received heartbreaking correspondence from many trying to pick up the pieces in the wake of such stealthy destruction.

And here is the truth: the pieces can never be retrieved.

Slander and gossip destroy beyond repair.

To partake is to cooperate with the father of lies.


Fault lines before the earthquake.

I have observed them, and so have you. Thin as cobwebs, snaking the ground. You step over and around the weakening pavement days, weeks, months before the quake. There is a vibe, and it is not holy.

A brush against cold hearts, frigid and fraudulent smiles, conversations hushed behind cupped hands when passing through narrow hallways. The scent of insatiable hunger for power and a thirst for control permeates everything–clashing against the clear teachings of Scripture: deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus.

Such churlishness often encroaches even the sanctuary–as a seemingly insurmountable wall of rebellion is built brick by brick as Scripture is unpacked.

Such stony offensiveness, cheeks flaming while eyes remain cold and unresponsive towards words such as sin, repentance, and holiness.

The deception is felt, a darkness seeking a space to invade.

And suddenly the poison-tipped arrows began to fly. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

Slanderous lies and gossip swirl. Once airborne, they zing and slice.

They murder.


I can both define and explain it, seeing its corrupt conception, seeds born from parents named wickedness and jealousy, the product of tangled and bitter roots. Slander and gossip are firm handshakes, a sealing of the deal with the devil, an upfront contract to execute his wicked, crushing pleasures.

But to be the object of gossip and slander? Such a bitter poison that disrupts sleep, tarnishes one’s good name, and hinders the Gospel. I wish it upon no one.

How it stings. The tongue’s poison spewed within the church is deadly, infiltrating the drinking water meant to nourish the congregation. (James 3:8)

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. Psalm 101:5


Last summer, I was visiting my dear friend, also a pastor’s wife.

We chatted for a bit as we do, about our families and those specific things the Lord is teaching us in the mundane. We laughed and enjoyed the sweet tartness of icy lemonade, while seated comfortably on their quaint back porch. The fat bumble bees wafted heavy about the flower garden, seeking sweet nourishment. A pair of hummingbirds hovered over the daylilies and impatiens, sipping nectar. I enjoyed the soft, gentle breeze breaking through the warmth of an otherwise humid afternoon.

My friend turned toward me and shared a painful story I had not known.

Her eyes then filled. It only took a few of the disgruntled to destroy our church.

I will share no more, suffice to say that tongues of poison obliterated an innocent family.

Her story was familiar–I have heard this tale on repeat from far too many pastor’s wives. This time it sent a shiver down my spine, because she is my friend. I could not imagine why a congregation would neglect to stand up to these few slanderers, for the sake of their pastor, his family, and the Gospel.

Fear of man is a deadly sin, isn’t it? (Proverbs 29:25) And its fiery consequences scald others, always. Such idolatry suppresses truth. And to suppress truth is to grieve and quench the Holy Spirit.

Pretenders (people who drape themselves in Christian attire each Sunday morning, arriving at church, pursuing power void of godliness, humility, repentance, or holiness) are infiltrating God’s houses of worship right now, sowing discord through gossip and slander and lies. Don’t be fooled, they are masquerading as Christians, (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) tearing apart God’s truthtellers and obliterating church unity.

Any one of us may be ensnared by the tasty trifles of gossip or slander, if we do not remain on our guard, continually feeding ourselves biblical truth.

Satan prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Those busy whispering words of poison have been devoured.

Stay Bible-saturated, soberminded, while pursuing holiness and maturity in Christ. To wave these disciplines aside will weaken you and the entire church body. You will soon fall prey to stealthy wolves, who will snatch you up, dragging you out of the church and into the fray.

As Christians heed God’s voice through the reading and study of their Bibles, inhaling and obeying truth, the flame of Holy Spirit rushes and burns brightly, producing wisdom, discernment, and a not-on-my-watch backbone. These are the markings of a true Christ-follower. (2 Corinthians 3:12)

When God fills his children with the Holy Spirit, boldness and courage rule the day. The truly regenerate heart will not tolerate timidity and man-pleasing ways. A believer cannot play fast and loose with sin, crushing others with poisoned speech, especially in God’s house.

We need to be bold men and women in order to deal with such matters, and swiftly.

More Bible-loving devotion leads to more tender-heartedness which leads to obedience and truth-telling, and the slaying of sin.

Sins such as the poisons of the tongue: gossip and slander.


Lies can and must be forgiven but they cannot be retrieved. Once spilled, they spread and are lapped up, devoured by others.

The damage is catastrophic.

It shatters people into a million pieces.


If gossip has begun to swirl on your watch, squelch it. Spear it to death. This is not the time to soft peddle.

Be like Jesus, who admonished Peter, a man who was boldly denying the truth. Jesus responded with: Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (Matthew 16:23)

Admonish each other in this same vein. If someone appeals to your flesh with whispers of: Did you hear about so-and-so? For the sake of your soul, your family, your friends, and your church: Stop the conversation abruptly. Ask them to go directly to the person they are seeking to misalign. Point them to Matthew 18:15-17. And if you know that the person before you is speaking lies, have the decency to call them out.

If everyone did this, the church would be radically purified.

What if others belittle you for obeying Scripture? What if they dismiss you, or even despise you for refusing the morsels of gossip and slander?

You have just suffered for obeying God. This is good and holy.


Men of the church, I beseech you to heed 1 Corinthians 16:13:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

Stand up for those who are preaching and teaching truth. Stop the gossip, slander, and lies before they grow octopus tentacles, suctioning themselves to reams of people with their poison.

It is remarkable what problems may be swiftly reconciled by the sturdy backbone of men with strong, God-fearing responses.

Do not gossip.

Do not slander.

And have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who does.

If you have a disagreement, set up a time to speak with the individual, pastor, or elders.

Practice boldness.

Fear God in utter reverence.

Cherish his Word and obey it.

Get behind me Satan.


To all women.

Eve was seduced by the first whispers of the Master Slanderer, Satan the serpent.

Did God actually say? You will not die. God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God. (Genesis 3:1-7)

Women, our sinful curse lies in our desire to rule and to be in the know. To share information just as Eve shared the fruit with her husband, a man who should have stood protectively guarding his wife, while refusing the forbidden fruit. Eve was a wife designed to be a helper to her husband, and she helped him, didn’t she? Right over a cliff.

Eve was easily deceived. (1 Timothy 2:14) We, too, as women, are often slow to walk away from the deception of slanderous lies and gossip.

I remind you of an important truth, another treasure trove of wisdom:

Proverbs 20:19Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore, do not associate with a simple babbler.

It will cost you relationally to obey this truth. But it will cost you a whole lot more to disobey God’s decree. To associate with a slanderer, a gossip, is to partake of the hideous nature of Satan. It is to cooperate with wickedness. I have personally seen many led astray by ignoring this directive.

Burn the bridges, cut the cords, do not associate with a slanderer. Stay connected through prayer only.

This might be the very act that wakes them up to truth, and if so, they will surely repent, and your relationship may be restored.

Even if they do not awaken to truth, forgive lavishly, again and again and again. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

But do not keep company, as bad company corrupts good character. (1 Corinthians 15:33)


It is crucial to also examine our own words.

I grieve those times in my own life when I have spoken poorly, gossiping about another. My own agony of being on the receiving end of gossip and slander has made me walk circumspectly, hungering for care-filled words to inhabit my lips rather than poisonous speech.

I have also realized that to stand quietly on the fringes while one decimates another by way of gossip and slander makes me complicit.

I am striving instead to practice godly speech, boldly and calmly asking: Have you spoken to them directly?


Never about, always to. ~ Amy Carmichael

3 thoughts on “Lips of Poison

  1. This is all so life affirming and therapeutic–thank you! I cut and pasted this quote of yours and put it in a note in my i-Bible on the word “bold” in 2 Corinthians 3:12: “As Christians heed God’s voice through the reading and study of their Bibles, inhaling and obeying truth, the flame of Holy Spirit rushes and burns brightly, producing wisdom, discernment, and a not-on-my-watch backbone. These are the markings of a true Christ-follower. (2 Corinthians 3:12)”

    Liked by 1 person

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