The Hebrew term lashon hara (or loshon hora) (Hebrew לשון הרע; “evil tongue”) is repeating something about someone that was not meant to be made public. And as its translation suggests, I truly believe it is straight from the devil. The negative forces created by these actions latch onto the speaker, the listener, as well as the subject of the conversation, a triple whammy of hatefulness which if not nipped in the bud can create ripples of devastation.
Being human, most of us are tempted when we hear something juicy to want to repeat it. What holds us back is our better inclinations, for life is a struggle of good versus evil within us. Whether through natural or nurtured inclination for some to not feel the urge to gossip, or by working really hard to not do it, in either case we are covenantly commanded to resist this destructive behavior.
And destructive it is, in so many ways. Although it is insidious no matter where or when, I have received such information at funerals of loved ones. Perhaps those grieving who may know or suspect toxic secrets just feel compelled to share at such a vulnerable time. But whatever the reason, to this day I wish they had not done so. For now, whenever I think of these departed individuals, the beautiful and cherished moments of their lives are tarnished by these final revelations.
When harmful public disclosures are made, especially in such a setting, not only does the receiver of the information carry a heavy burden, but the evil words taint the departed person in a way that cannot be healed, for that person is no longer here to even try to explain the situation. This same effect can happen when lashon hara relates to someone who has moved away, or who is no longer interacting with you. Once the words have been said, although you can deal with them, you cannot erase them from your memory, and there is little possibility for understanding and interchange.
As I was struggling with this dilemma recently I realized there is one “person” I can tell such toxic secrets to – it is our Messiah Yeshua. He was right there in the car with me and I could lay the burden at His feet. I explained my frustration, how the lashon hora had tainted my memory of this person. As I began to share with Him what was said to me I immediately felt a huge weight being lifted. He eased the pain of the thoughts racing in my head about my departed loved one. He made me realize that no matter what was said to me, it didn’t change my feelings of love toward her. With Him bearing the weight, my sadness was lifted. We had quite the conversation, and by the end I was actually smiling. I knew all was fine. Hard to believe but He is that powerful. He could remind me that He already knows all, and that this world is just the training ground for what lies beyond.
As we take on that challenge of living lovingly, I encourage you to pretend the person you are about to expose publicly is right in front of you. That is the test that never fails of whether the comment should be made. For once you do otherwise you not only have hurt the one you speak about, but you have also hurt the one you love.