GOD has ZERO-TOLERANCE for ‘GOSSIP’ and ‘SLANDER’: "You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord." (Lev. 19:16)
Just like the 12th chapter of Romans, the 19th chapter of Leviticus offers us various practical applications to be applied daily in our lives. This chapter contains five sections with five precepts relating to holiness in everyday affairs: regard for the poor (vv. 9, 10); regard for the truth (vv. 11, 12); regard for the employee and the helpless (vv. 13, 14); regard for the rich (v. 15); and regard for one’s neighbor (vv. 16–18). In fact, through these verses we can pick up wonderful practical advice regarding how to provide for the poor and the disabled without stripping them off their dignity (vv. 9-10, 14), how to run a business ethically (vv. 11, 13, 15), and how to respect God in our daily living (v. 12).
The core basis of all these good deeds is our relentless pursuit after holiness since our God is most holy (v. 2). Our holiness is displayed in more than our ritual and sexual behavior, but pervades in all aspects of our lives. Our holiness must provide the bases for all of our behavior as a reflection of God’s holiness (vv. 1–4). We must imitate God in holiness by practicing numerous duties that reflect Him!
This chapter is all about doing that with regard to our religious life, good neighborliness, respect for the old and the alien, and in our business ventures (Exodus 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21). Holiness was to be the standard in the way offerings were made (vv. 5–8), harvests were gathered (vv. 9–10), and how others were treated with regards to their properties (vv. 11–14) and their legal rights (vv. 15–16). Above all, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (v. 18; Matt. 19:19).
Many of these provisions listed here are found in the Sermon on the Mount, which was the preamble of the public teachings of Jesus. God is concerned for the welfare of each individual in society, and we should share the same social concern that He has. We should actively seek to promote the principles of economic fairness (v. 13), respectfulness (v. 14), justice administered equally to both poor and mighty (v. 15), truthfulness (v. 16), and displaying true brotherly love for all people (vv. 16–18).
One of the important life lessons that we can learn is to understand God’s stern attitude towards talebearers (v. 16). A talebearer is not just a gossiper, but a slanderer who is actively seeking to destroy another person’s reputation. We should realize that when we speak badly about others, this can have disastrous effects. The book of Proverbs has many things to say about gossiping: it betrays confidence among friends (Prov. 11:13), it separates close friends (16:28; 17:9), it shames us by inflicting us with a bad reputation (25:9-10), and adds fuel to a quarrel on a long-term basis (26:20-22). It is a sad fact that we can rarely undo the damage that our lies and slander have caused on the victim of this rumor-mongering.
Let us never forget that God has zero-tolerance for gossip and slander, so let us set a guard over our mouths and destroy gossip on its tracks by ignoring it completely!
"In you are men who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness." (Ezek. 22:9)
"He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips." (Prov. 20:19)