Dámaris: Hello, ladies. God bless you. I have been given the task of speaking to you, or summarizing, if you please, of the matter of abstaining from slander.
This is chapter 6 in the wonderful book, Adorned. I love how Nancy gave it this title: “You Don’t Say.”
Words matter. Words can be wonderful . . . and words can be so hurtful.
Our God describes Himself as The Word. Remember, in chapter 1 of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1)?
So when it comes to words, talking, how careful we must be as we try to model to our younger sisters (I’m sixty-two, so I’m definitely the older one here) that what we say is so important. I am so thankful that the Word of God is very clear to what should be coming out of our mouths. Can you say, “Amen”? (Audience responds with “Amen!”)
This is not in the script, but I’m going to stop for thirty seconds to tell you something. I did jingles for many years—I sang commercials. They haven’t gone away. Have you noticed? Why? Because they work. People get degrees in marketing because when you push something the right way, people will buy it, people will get it. So I have a jingle for you tonight. Do you want to hear it? (Audience replies, “Yes!”) Read your Bible. (laughter and applause) I’m just saying.
I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took me, but everything that has blessed you this day has come from women that are saturated in the Word of God—not just preparing sermons, but living it. It’s like the song that I sang, which I did not write, but I thank God for the writer: “I want to live in Your Word until You Word is living in me.” Amen!
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fit the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
I have prayed that the Lord would help me to do just that in these moments that I have been given.
When I read this chapter about slander, I tried to remember when or if I had slandered anyone. Believe me, I’ve lied. As a teenager, I made up stuff that was ridiculous. I lived in New York City. My mother never let us go to the street and play, so all my city girlfriends had boyfriends. I didn’t. So I made up stories. I had a boyfriend in every burrow. (laughter) Lies. I know what it’s like to lie. So lying is something I’m very acquainted with.
Gossiping is also something I’ve done. I’m embarrassed, but I have blurted out what I don’t like about this or that person, which is wrong.
But slander—this one was a bit of a challenge for me.
Nancy clearly states that slander is not always a lie. But slander always hurts someone. Again, I asked myself, “Who have I slandered?” I wanted to think of an actual lie that I said about someone because I wanted them to look bad in someone else’s eyes. Had I done that? I really had a hard time trying to remember.
But then, ladies, the Holy Spirit made something very clear to me. He said, “Dámaris, slander is also when you behave in a way that misrepresents the Lord Jesus Christ. You bear His name. You are a Christian.”
Have I made someone think less of Jesus because of the way I’ve treated them or spoken to them or ignored them?
Your life should be one that reflects His character. Are you lying to others in the way you represent Him by your behavior? Oh, my! Guilty! I have definitely spread lies about the Lord when I’ve opened my mouth to rant about what troubles me, what agitates me, what’s giving me anxiety, or what I feel is something that has absolutely no remedy—saying things like, “That person is never going to change. I’m done with him. I’m done with her.”
Slander. Spreading lies about someone. Oh Lord, have I slandered Your character to someone? Have I spread lies about You? This is very, very serious.
Nancy pointed out that the Greek word diablos is translated in Titus as slanderers. It’s also translated in other parts of the New Testament as Satan.
Want to hear something interesting for us Latin women? The word for Satan is Diablo). So we get that. We don’t need a Greek New Testament for that one. (laughter) We understand that one real well.
Lying is diabolical.
Let’s ask the Lord to help us walk in truth. Can you say, “Amen”? (Ladies respond with, “Amen!”)
The Lord listens well. Do you? Do I?
In the fifth or sixth grade, I can’t remember, I snuck into my elementary school’s closet and opened the metal box that contained our records, and I quickly looked for my name. When I took the card out, I found that that it said Dámaris Corteese—that’s my maiden name—chatterbox. (laughter) Yup. That pretty much describes me.
Do you know that in Proverbs it says, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking.” In some other versions: “When words are many, sin is not absent” (Pr. 10:19).
I truly believe, and I think some of you will agree, that people like me who love to talk are more prone to sin with their words. That’s not to say that if you don’t talk much, you don’t sin. Believe me, you do. (laughter) You just do it differently.
But my assignment is slander, so listen up.
I’ve been so guilty of talking to get you to like me. I’m not really a flatterer. I just talk. I talk about myself. I want to make you laugh—which isn’t necessarily something that bad. But let me be very clear here: Why am I doing it?
Is the underlying desire behind everything I say, everything I do, that you would think more of Jesus?
I put a little note here because I wanted to stop because even Jesus had a way of talking.
You know what hit me the other day? The most famous, probably, verse in the New Testament, John 3:16. We all know it, but it hit me that Jesus said those words to Nicodemus. He said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”
Do you hear that? He didn’t say, “Nicodemus, listen to Me: God so loved you that He sent Me.” Even there He’s making much of His Father.
Is that why I want you to like me? Is it so that you would see how wonderful Jesus is? Because, listen, ladies, when my heart is in the right place, and when I sing wanting you to hear Him through the lyrics, or right now as I’m speaking and praying with all my might that you would see how glorious He really is, I cannot begin to tell you the overwhelming joy that completely fills my being.
But the times when the motive is slightly skewed or not in the right place, the Holy Spirit allows me to feel that dull, deep ache—it’s called godly sorrow—of knowing that I have not pleased Him. Or, better said: I have misrepresented Him.
I’m so glad the Holy Spirit has made that clear to me so many times. He causes us to remember. That’s what the Holy Spirit has come to do—to bring to remembrance everything His Word has told us about Jesus.
The reason I wasted so many years not even caring about other people was because I was consumed with myself. God was patient and merciful, and He is still changing my heart.
Also not in the notes—you know how I know He’s merciful? He hasn’t killed me. (laughter) I’m alive! So are you! Hallelujah!
Now, listen, I’m old enough to tell you now that when I speak to the younger women in my church, I do keep that in mind now. I want to be honest with them and admit to them that I haven’t always trusted the Lord the way that I should. I tell them that He has never failed me, and that He is truly trustworthy.
Many times I tell them, I plead with them, that they need to call on His name, that they need to learn to wait in His presence, open up His Word and seek Him with everything that is within them.
I also want them to genuinely sense the joy that the Lord has given me when I have obeyed Him.
But even if you say all the right things, are you living that out? Are you? Am I living that out? Because, to say those things and not really live those things is slander.
Believe me, we can get really good at mentoring yet still live a kind of lie that slanders Him because if you’re not truly obeying Him with your life, it will sooner or later be very evident, and you will find your efforts to mentor the women in your life fruitless. They may never know that I’m not living what I’m teaching, but the Lord does.
Romans 2:21 says, “You then who teach others.”
Do you not teach yourself? I’m slandering Him if I do not live what I am counseling them to do. Help us, Lord. Living that way is contrary to His character.
Does my life speak the truth? Jesus does not only speak the truth, Jesus is Truth.
Thankfully, now, by God’s grace, I do want to learn how to listen better to those He has placed in my life. I want to care more. And if I heed Ephesians 4:29, I have to be aware of the situation it says, or the occasion it says of what she needs in order for these younger women, these young girls to be built up.
Jesus listened to His Father and said, “I only do the things the Father tells me to do. I only say the things the Father wants me to say.” His entire life was one of complete submission to His Father’s will and one that could say in the most difficult hour, “Father, not My will be done, but Your will be done.”
Ladies, I want to hear His voice and say what His Word is teaching me as I look and listen to Him.
Yes, slander is awful. And even if you, like me, have had a hard time trying to think if you’ve been guilty of it, believe me, you’ve lied and hurt His reputation when your life is not consumed—listen to me here—with wanting to know Him, to please Him in everything.
Oh, but when He shows you the condition of your heart, and you respond honestly, and ask Him to change your lying heart, you will find yourself desiring to see these women that are in your life come to know Him and live for Him. Really? Yes! Praise the Lord, yes! That’s what He wants to do.
I want these precious women to learn that not only that malicious gossip and slandering someone is evil, but to understand that our life can also slander, or better said: misrepresent the character of God.
Remember Ephesians where it says, “Nothing that is unprofitable, nothing unwholesome should come out (That’s a no-brainer!), but only that which is good for building up as fit the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear.”
So what is going to build her up? You have to get to know her. What’s the occasion? What’s going on in her life? Basically, these precious women need our time and need our attention, and we need to be aware.
Are we trusting God and telling her He is trustworthy?
Are you living in the Word, and is it filling your heart with faith so that you can impart that to the one who doubts that the Lord knows or really cares? If you’re not living in His Word, then you are misrepresenting Him. Your life will be a lie.
Am I encouraging them to do the things that I am not doing? Even if they never find out, I’m sowing seeds of hypocrisy, and I’m teaching them how to get over. Isn’t that what the Israelites learned to do so well? That’s why the Lord said to them, “You honor Me with your lips, but your heart is far from me.”
Oh, may the way we live graciously represent the beauty of Jesus and what it means to walk in truth.
My desire is to see the precious women God has placed in my life resolve, not only not to slander or maliciously gossip about someone, but even more importantly, that together we would be keenly aware of how serious it is to live a lie that slanders the character of the only true and great God, our Savior.
I want to pray that the eyes of my heart and your heart would clearly see how destructive this insidious and diabolical thing called slander really is.
Maybe you will admit today that you have slandered, your life, at times, has lied.
The good news is that the Holy Spirit is so gracious to point these things out to us and convicts us so that we may repent. Our heavenly Father is so willing to forgive. Oh, that our hearts would truly desire to live out the beauty of the gospel together (I think that’s so precious what God put in Nancy’s heart) so that in everything we may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
I didn’t say this when we were up there, but I want to close by saying that the woman who really made a difference in my life now doesn’t recognize me—my mother Amy. She’s eighty-eight. She’s got dementia. My mother loved Jesus—she still does. She was funny before her mind went, and she’s still funny.
The other day my sister asked her, “Mom, who am I?”
She said, “I don’t know, but you’re special.” (laughter)
My mother also loved Jesus. I remember thinking, I think she’d leave us for Him. Yet, I never felt unloved. I was obsessed as a little girl, asking her all the time: Was I pretty? Was I pretty? Was I pretty? She would kind of ignore that, and then one day she finally said this to me. She goes, “Honey, you’re exotic.” (laughter) I had absolutely no idea what that word meant. Then one day I saw that flower, Bird of Paradise. And if that’s an exotic flower, “Thanks, Mom.” (laughter)
But all Mom wanted was to live for Jesus, and I will be eternally grateful that the woman who was most responsible for my loving Jesus is my mother. I thank the Lord for that.
Pray with me.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for misrepresenting You. Forgive us for lying, for slandering others, for slandering You. Your Word says that “if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We are so grateful that You are merciful and compassionate. We humble ourselves today and tell You that we need You more than ever, and we want our lives to honor You. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, amen. God bless you.