“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” Proverbs 11:12-13
You have probably noticed that the world has become a very unfriendly place. I have pondered this and have come to the conclusion that much of this unhappy circumstance is due to the great many talebearers that now seem to be everywhere.
According to The Standard Dictionary of the English Language (1895), a talebearer is one who tells tales calculated to make, or with the view of making, mischief; a meddling informer; mischief maker; scandalmonger. The practice of talebearing is then defined as being of or pertaining to the circulation of idle or injurious tales, tattling, gossip or the act of spreading scandal. Given in example is Proverbs 18:8 — “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
According to The Century Dictionary and Cyclopaedia (1900), a talebearer is one who tells tales likely to breed mischief; and the practice of talebearing is the act of spreading tales, especially such as are either untrue or in some way detrimental to the person concerned; spreading reports that are likely to do harm. Give in example is Proverbs 26:20, but we will add verses 21 and 22 — “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
I love the older dictionaries, because they often gave examples from Holy Scripture or other classical works, for a clearer understanding. My how things have changed!
The Bible makes it clear that we are NOT to be talebearers!
People who are talebearers — whether they realize it or not — are doing the work of the devil, who is called the accuser of the brethren, as we read in Revelation 12:10, “. . . for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
There have always been those who think nothing of causing others hurt, especially when it comes to hurting those who are vulnerable. Not only do they think nothing of it, they get a kick out of it. God hates that sort of thing. “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I AM the LORD.” Leviticus 19:14
I love the way God says, “I AM the LORD.” It is as though He knows the hearers will kick against His instruction, so He simply establishes the fact that He is God, and there will be no answering back! None of this asking why, none of this “I don’t want to.” There is no debate here. “I AM the LORD,” period!
One of the things that causes people the most hurt is being the victim of talebearing. And with political leaders encouraging people to turn in their neighbours, the practice has become widespread. But be not deceived, God forbids it. “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:16-18
Talebearing has at its heart the sin of pride. It is the exalting of one’s self through the pushing down or injuring of others. Self-exaltation is the sin of Lucifer, that old serpent, the devil. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14
Satan knows he cannot throw down or destroy God, so he seeks to destroy those of us who are made in His image, those whom God loves, those whom He calls the apple of His Eye. Just as those who spread love and kindness and who help others and build others up are doing the work of God, so talebearers are doing the work of Satan. The very definition of the word satan is adversary, and they are happy to play the adversary in order to exalt themselves at the expense of others. Yea, they run to do it! But in doing so, they make themselves enemies of God. “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16-19
What a fitting definition of those who run to and fro as talebearers, turning in their neighbours for not following all the tyrannical rules and mandates of the day, with no regard for what is right. They consider themselves saviours, that they are doing good; but they are sinning against God and against their fellow man. Do not let yourself be numbered with them! “Let no corrupt communication [talebearing certainly qualifies as 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. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:29-32
May God be pleased to hold His people back from the sin of talebearing!