Proverbs 18:8

An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs
Charles Bridges

"The words of a talebearer are as wounds,
and they go down into the inmost body."

Do men deny, question, or soften down the depravity of our nature? Mark again how the virulent poison of only one member destroys practical godliness, social order, and mutual friendship. The talebearer was expressly forbidden by the law (Lev. 19:16), and not less is he opposed to the spirit of the gospel. No character surely is more despicable, no influence more detestable. It is right indeed that we should exercise interference with each other, and mutual inspection. It is a hard selfishness only that asks the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" The rule is clear--"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Phil. 2:4).

The rule is at once illustrated and enforced by an example magnificent and constraining. It is "the mind that was in Christ Jesus himself." Had the Son of God looked at his own interests and not at the interests of others, would he have emptied himself of his divine glory? Would he have humbled himself to the accursed cross?

The bond of interference will be determined by the principle of the love of our neighbor. It is right, therefore, to "bring an evil report" for the prevention of sin. Eli was thus enabled, though without effect, to remonstrate with his sons. The life of an Apostle was by this means preserved. Serious evils in the church were restrained or corrected. However, no good results can arise from the spirit of the talebearer, because with him it is pure selfishness, without a principle beyond the love of sin for its own sake. He lives upon the scandal of the place and makes it his hateful business to carry about tales, or slanders of his neighbor's faults. Such reports are eagerly devoured, and the mischief-maker feeds with greedy appetite upon the fruit of his cruel indulgence. To him this may appear harmless play, and though it draws no blood and no outward hurt is shown, an internal and often incurable wound is inflicted. We may seem to make light of the tale brought to our ears and wholly to despise it. But the subtle poison has worked. "Suppose it should be true? Perhaps, though it may be exaggerated, there may be some ground for it." The thought indulged only for a moment brings suspicion, distrust, coldness, and often ends in the separation of chief friends. So dangerous a member is the tongue without stern and determined control!

The tale of an unguarded moment may be a tremendous irreparable injury. The evil humor may meet with a welcome audience in good society, where but for the food which scandal supplies conversation would drag heavy. But no favor can alter its real character as an abomination both with God and man. Ah! what but the power of holy love, opening freely the channels of kindness and forbearance, can overcome this mischievous propensity? And what will bring this spirit of love but a true interest in Christian privileges and a corresponding sense of Christian obligations?

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