An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
    and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
Proverbs 17:4

What is it about gossip and slander that excites the human ear and heart? Let’s face it: most people seem to delight in spreading evil about others. True or not, accurate or inaccurate, people relish the idea of destroying the name of another, usually so they can defend their behavior or attitudes. The sin of the tongue is destructive in many ways, and it is one of the reasons why Scripture spends so much time warning us about it. 

In this proverb, Solomon wisely points out two evils. It may seem that he is only describing one, and the focus is more on one than the other. Yet, there are two evils here. First, there is the evil actions of wicked lips. Gossip doesn’t have much chance if others would stop it in its tracks and rebuke the one doing it as the evil that it is. It is interesting how Solomon describes the lips of the one spreading lies as wicked. He doesn’t pull any punches. He says their lips are wicked because they are wicked. We do not typically want to think of others in those terms. We look and see these people doing other things that are good and moral. We often make excuses for people who lie, slander, and gossip because they are not as bad as they could be. Yet, Solomon says that what they are doing is evil. The evil they are doing flows from their heart, which is wrong. Why is this abomination so severely categorized in the Bible? Because it destroys lives. It can ruin relationships, another person’s good name, their job, livelihood, and churches. The second issue pertains to those who listen. They are described as an evildoer. Gossip and slander require an audience. Sadly, most people are glad to listen and, sometimes, spread it further. The only thing that stops gossip is to cut it off at its source. An evildoer is more worried about what the other person might think if they call the gossip out for their sin. Rarely do they worry about the good name of their brother and sister. 

So, what do you do if you are confronted with “wicked lips”? You stop them! Do not listen to the lies of the evildoer. Refrain from giving them an audience. Call them to repent. An excellent practical tip in this area is to tell the person, “Would you like me to go get the person you are slandering and allow them to listen in on this conversation?” Most people would be horrified at such a proposition. What should you do if you have listened to the lies of others about another? There is always hope in Christ. You seek his forgiveness and endeavor through all the means he grants to repent of this sin, turning away from it. 

Yes. Slander and gossip — wicked lips – have the power to destroy. God’s people should be busy putting an end to this abomination. How many forest fires were started by a tiny spark? 

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