Inconvenient Thing #12: Backbiting

Justin Johnson

This is part of a series on the 25 inconvenient things in Romans 1:28-32.

While it may be more colloquial to use the word ‘backstab’ or ‘slander’, ‘backbite’ is much more descriptive and easy to understand.

It is good advice not to say something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face. But when you say it to their face they angrily say, “Don’t bite my face off!”

As a result the world is full of backbiting: where people relegate themselves to biting people behind their backs.

This sort of gossip and secret verbal abuse is a form of betrayal and can be cancerous to relationships.

Backbiting climbs to elevated levels in secret with each new backbiter adding a few more jabs and punches, while the very person being bitten may be ignorant to the entire situation or problem.

The problem is never resolved directly but instead grows larger with every backbite which severs relationship trust and honest communication.

Unfortunately, this occurs too often in the church when people would rather backbite instead of give or receive Biblical reproof.

When there is wrong behavior in the church it is much more common to backbite than to reprove and restore in the spirit of meekness (Gal 6:1-2).

Christian backbiting takes the form of “so-and-so is not acting like a Christian, she is growing very worldly.” This sort of backbiting is common in order to appear more spiritual.

Backbiting defers needful and effective reproof. Deception always accompanies backbiting since the backbiter is forced to conceal their words said in secret.

Backbiting also occurs towards elders who perform their duty to reprove, because “it is none of their business”, “he is not a saint either”, and “he is just trying to cause trouble”. Every preacher and teacher is subject to a good backbiting behind closed doors.

Backbiting circumvents the edifying practice of speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15). The result is a weakened church that never deals with its problems because honest reproof is never given or received.

It would be right if loving reproof was openly and courageously performed where needed. And while some may find fault with some other they would either control their tongue and thoughts or speak face to face with the individual in ‘gentleness, apt to teach’ (2 Tim 2:24-25).

Godly behavior seeks reproof and the edification of the church in love to the inconvenience of backbiting.

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Published: October 29, 2011
Last Modified: August 10, 2012
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