Allow me to start out with what the Bible says about slander. These are just 5 verses given in chronological order out of 44 total in the Bible:
1.Slander is serious enough to be included as 1 of the 10 Commandments...
Exodus 20:16- “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
2. Speaking of what slander is at its source...it is DEMONIC
Zechariah 3:1- "Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel's right hand, making slanderous accusations against Jeshua, the servant of the LORD."
3. I think God takes this REALLY seriously....
Psalm 101:5 - "Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy"
4. Attention all Jesus-followers! These are the words of Jesus Himself....
Mark 7:21-23 - "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, SLANDER, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."
5. Finally, James by the Holy Spirit chimes in......
James 4:11 - "Do not speak against or slander one another. He who slanders a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it."
No doubt, slander is something deeply serious. If we are serious about living for God, we must be vigilant about putting up a gaurd in order to not ourselves be guilty of becoming a slanderer.
So what exactly is slander?
Websters defines slander in the following way: " to make or pass on a statement that is potentially false that causes another person or persons to have a bad opinion of someone." In Latin, the word is translated "to blacken".
Is that not EXACTLY what the work of Satan is? He takes a paint brush and slathers black paint over the saint of God who was set apart for the Lord, who may or may not have done something wrong, who is created in the image of God, and completely darkens their person. It is the opposite of how Jesus treats people, which is redemptively. With slander, the person and all that they are, including their motivations which no one but God Himself knows, .... ALL are held in suspect with a big question mark written over their person. Instead of loving them as a brother or sister in Christ, suspicion has filled the heart of the one who has received the slander from another. Rather than creating unity and love, it creates division and discord.
Slander was actually the source of the first original sin that caused the fall of all mankind. The serpent slandered God Himself and portrayed Him to be uncaring, unloving and only out for Himself. He twisted God's words and motivations and created a big QUESTION MARK of doubt in Adam and Eve's hearts about the God that they thought they knew and formerly trusted.
Could he really be trusted? They weren't sure anymore.
The devil succeeded in painting the Father's character with his big black brush of slander. We know the end of the story from there.
I urge you, all of you who are reading this, to sincerely pray and ask the Holy Spirit to deliver you from any slander you have received about a brother or sister in Christ, and likewise to forgive you for any slander you have passed on about any of God's children or anyone else for that matter. This is something deadly serious that God does not take lightly.
Jesus was slandered and maligned, His character darkened, with lies spoken continually about Him. It was Satan's chief work against the Son of God. We likewise see this tactic of Satan used against almost all of God's servants, going all the way back to Moses. David, the Prophets, and many others, suffered under the Slanderers black brush. It is Satan's MAIN tool in opposing God's servants as well as all of God's people who sincerely love Him.
So the question now becomes 1st, how do we handle a potentially slanderous accusation against a fellow believer when it is passed on to us from someone else, and then 2nd, how do we handle slander when it is spoken against us personally?
First, when the slander is spoken about someone else, Jesus in Matthew 18 gives us the proper way to handle it. Rather than just receiving the words someone speaks to us about another that diminishes or darkens our opinion of them, we should tell them that IF what they are saying is true, they should go to the person they are passing potential judgment on and directly ask them what is the truth. Let the person know that if they don't go, you WILL go, as you do not allow any person who is a part of your Christian family to be potentially slandered. If there is sin involved, it still should not darken the whole person and we as their brother or sister are to be agents toward them having a chance to repent and turn away from the sin and be forgiven by the blood of Christ. God will bless us if we promote unity and restoration in the body of Christ rather than suspicion, judgment and division.
I am convinced after almost 35 years of being a believer that if the majority of Christians actually practiced Matthew 18, the world would truly see our love for one another and how we protect each other and actually WANT to be a part of our tribe!
So what about when the slander is spoken about us personally?
I love what the Scriptures says about Jesus when he had been accused of all kinds of crazy things and was brought before Pontius Pilot. He was not defensive, nor did he revile back. Rather he simply stated the truth concerning who He was and what He had come to do. He stated the facts, without any anger, any defensiveness. He then entrusted himself to God who is ultimate judge.
Most of you have known me for a long time. There are no words to describe how much over the past 30+ years of ministry I wish I had acted like Jesus in both situations, especially the second. How I wish I could go back and just insert a Jesus-like response into all the times I was accused of various things, some true, others false. I believe it would've made a huge difference in the outcomes of many of the situations.
So going back to the beginning of this blog post, it has come to my attention concerning a number of different things that have swirled around the city we are coming back to about what happened almost 2 years ago concerning my relationship with Robin. She took it hard, as no one has really met her yet to really know her character. But let me just say without going into defensive mode that she is without question one of the most godly, Jesus-loving people I've ever met. Anyone who gets to know her will love her as she is one of those people that it's impossible not to like or love. I will not speak any further on the matter and if at some point she wants to, she will herself.
The only thing I want to address at this point, and only because it is relevant to our moving back, is WHY we are moving back and starting a new church. Is it to compete with my former church that I started, Harvest, now Generation?
Again, I am trying to practice what Jesus did as best I can from now on so will simply state the truth and the facts. Back in late January 2015 I was given, and had the hope, of returning after six months to the church I founded, at that point Harvest, now Generation Church. At the six-month point in August I sent an email to all of the leaders asking if that was still a possibility, as I would love to rejoin them in doing the Great Commission in the city God called me too so long ago, Pensacola. I stated that I loved them and did believe they loved me and that I would love nothing more than to be rejoined with them, but that if they deemed not to go that direction, because I still feel called to Pensacola as my home and city of calling, I would begin a new work, though it was a second option as I knew how much work it takes to start a church. I would have much preferred to be rejoined with them as a fellow co-laborer in Christ. After a few days I received the response which was that they felt to decline the offer at this time. It made me deeply sad but I knew that I had to move on to what God was making clear would be my future, that of planting a new church in Pensacola. I laid it before the Lord and for six months waited for confirmation, which I received in late February 2016. I began to reach out to those who had expressed interest since I had left in being a part of something new if I was to restart again. We now have about 60 who are ready to engage in this new work called The Bridge Church. I refuse to work in darkness or secrecy and have sought to do everything in the light and to be upfront, out in the open. Though the work of starting all over can be overwhelming at times, I truly can say that God's grace is empowering me in a way I've never known before. I am excited beyond measure about being able to birth my second church in the second half of my life!
So, again,let me be crystal clear: Pensacola is my HOME. Building God's Church is my CALLING. I would have preferred to do that with my former comrades, but they declined, preferring to keep things as they are now. I am moving on and starting afresh with what I believe God has called me to do, totally in the light, transparently, with nothing behind the scenes or hidden. I fully expect God to bless The Bridge in its work, along with all the other churches in Pensacola, as we seek to reach those lost and far from God.
So that's it. I again am doing my best to speak simple truth without defensiveness and hope to make this my practice for the rest of my life and ministry. I likewise urge you to do the same when you feel you have been lied about and maligned, as well as when someone passes on something that darkens the character of a fellow brother or sister in Christ. Maybe, just maybe, this will spread and we will see TRUE revival in our lifetimes!
Pastor Bobby Lepinay