'Speak evil of no man' (Titus iii. 2)
This is a command of God, and should be meditated upon and obeyed. A
failure to do this leads to innumerable evils. Myriads of souls have
backslidden; multitudes, almost persuaded, have turned back into
darkness; many revivals have been quenched; and many houses of God
have become spiritual sepulchers, all because of evil-speaking.
I. What is evil-speaking?
It is evil to tell lies about any man, or slander him in any way.
'Thou shalt not bear false witness' (Exod. xx. 16), God says. A
man's reputation and character are sacred in the sight of God, and
just as He forbids one man to rob another of his property, or take
his life, so He forbids him to lie about another, or rob him of his
good name. This is a holy commandment, and commends itself to every
It is evil to retail the faults and infirmities of others. This is a
very common form of evil-speaking, but love will cover up such
faults and infirmities. Just as it is beautiful in children to never
speak about or appear to notice the club-feet or hunch-back or
cross-eyes of a little playmate, so it is lovely and Christ-like in
us to pass by faults and infirmities, and is evil not to do so.
It is evil to tell of any man's sins and actual wrongdoing where and
when it will do no good.
II. Why should we speak evil of no man?
Because in speaking evil we wrong the man. It is a grievous wrong to
speak evil of any man. You do not like any one to speak evil of you,
and you consider it wrong for anyone to do so. But why? When you
have answered you have given yourself a reason why you should not
speak evil of any man.
Because in speaking evil of any man we wrong those to whom we thus
speak. It fills their minds with unholy, unjust prejudice. It
excludes good thoughts, and it tempts them to think and speak evil.
Because we wrong our own souls by evil-speaking. It destroys all
generous and kindly thoughts in us, and quenches love. It opens our
hearts for the devil to enter, and he will make haste to come in. It
prevents us from praying in faith and love for the person, which
would be infinitely better than speaking evil of him, and which he
especially needs, if he is in any way wrong.
Because in speaking evil of any man we grieve the Holy Spirit and
break the commandment of God. The Holy Spirit leads us to love all
men -- even our enemies; leads us to love them -- even as Jesus
loved them, but evil-speaking destroys love. The Holy Spirit leads
us to pray for all men, especially for those who are faulty and
sinful, but evil-speaking quenches the spirit of prayer as water
Because in speaking evil of any man we wrong Jesus. He died for that
man. He bought him with His Blood, and even though the man may be a
sinner, a backslider, a hypocrite, and refuses to obey God and love
and trust Jesus, yet Jesus loves him and spares him, and is wronged
when he is evil spoken of. Jesus identifies Himself with the sinner
to whom we give a cup of cold water in His name, and says the good
we do is done unto Him, and so He will identify Himself with the
sinner whom we wrong by evil-speaking, and in the Judgment will face
us with the wrong as done to Himself unless we hastily and heartily
III. What is the remedy?
If he is bad or faulty in any way, consider the fact that he may
have secret trials and temptations that you know nothing about. He
may have business troubles and cares that lead him to wrong, or he
may have family trials to which you are a stranger, or he may have
had very faulty early training which has marred him for life. Not
that these things will excuse him in the Day of Judgment, but they
should lead you and me to pity rather than to abuse him by speaking
evil of him.
Think about your own evils. This will be far more profitable to you
than to think about his, and will be infinitely more likely to make
a better man or woman of you.
I often see in my own thoughts, When they lie nearest Thee,
That the worst men I ever knew Were better men than me.
One of the chief dangers to ourselves in evil-speaking is that we
come to under-estimate everybody else, and to esteem ourselves more
highly than we ought. We come to look at our own virtues and other
people's faults, when we ought to look long at their virtues and at
our own faults.
Yes, they have caught the way of God, To whom self lies displayed
In such clear vision as to cast O'er other's faults a shade.
If we want to be like Jesus, we must obey the command, 'In lowliness
of mind let each esteem other better than themselves' (Phil. ii. 3),
but this will be impossible where evil-speaking is indulged in.
Consider how Jesus loves him. If Jesus loved him enough to die for
him; if He still loves him enough to spare him, in spite of all his
faults and sins, and to save him the moment he repents, trusts and
obeys, how dare we speak evil of him! And if he is a follower of
Jesus and a child of God, even though he may be very imperfect, how
dare we speak evil of him! Would we dare speak evil of an angel by
the Throne of God and expect God to be deaf and allow our sin to go
unpunished? Would we not rather expect His holiness to flame out in
terrible wrath and consume us? And is any poor sinful soul that has
looked to Jesus for salvation, any less dear to the heart of God
than the shining angels around His Throne?
'Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and
then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy
brother's eye' (Matt. vii. 5). Get a clean heart, full of the Holy
Ghost, full of love, and you cannot speak evil of any man. With a
heart flaming with love, you will pray for the wrong-doer, and if
you see evil in him, you will go to him in love and try to correct
him, just as you would go to a blind man walking toward a precipice,
and try to turn him from certain death.
I need Thy mercy for my sin; But more than this I need
Thy mercy's likeness, in my soul, For others' sin to bleed.
All bitterness is from ourselves, All sweetness is from Thee;
Sweet God, for evermore be Thou Fountain and fire in me.