A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.Proverbs 16:28(NASB)
There is much in Scripture that promotes a righteous lifestyle; gracious speech, healing words, and a listening ear. Believers are called to develop godly attitudes and acknowledge the Lord in all their ways. We are to ask God for an understanding heart, to practice morality, produce spiritual fruit in His sufficient strength, and trust in the Lord with all our heart. Those who follow this advice and walk in spirit and truth, honour the Lord and grow in grace.
There are also many ungodly actions and attitudes in the Bible to avoid. When writing to the Corinthians, Paul instructs us to stop associating with any so-called brother if he is sexually immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunk, or a robber, while James warns that envy and contention causes confusion which results in all sorts of perversions and perverse work.
This verse in Proverbs picks on two of these ungodly characteristics: "A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends." A perverse person is one who lacks integrity, whips up strife, and is 'utterly disgusting to the Lord'.
Paul warns Timothy to eschew the perverse disputings of men with corrupt minds, and withdraw from their company. He identifies them as being destitute of the truth and yet they consider themselves to be good people. Too often they are wise in their own eyes, yet lack the godly understanding of the man of God who is humble in heart.
A perverse person is one that twists the truth for their own ends or to fulfil an ungodly agenda. They distort facts or only provide a shaded or partial-truth, through deceit and lies. Too often this is carried out to confuse others, gain control of a situation, entrap someone, or simply spread discouragement and despair. In Psalm 71 we read: "Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the perverse and violent man."
The second ungodly characteristic from which we should be divorced is slander: "For a slanderer separates intimate friends." How often malicious gossip, unnecessary tittle-tattle, or promoting a rumour, has caused endless pain or promoted division. In Ecclesiastes we are warned: "Do not let your speech cause you to sin," while Paul encourages us in Colossians: "Let your speech be always with grace, and seasoned with salt."
Elsewhere in Proverbs we read: "The words of a whisperer or a slanderer may be dainty morsels to some, but to others are like deadly wounds, which go down into the innermost parts of the victim's nature," and the verse concludes by warning that "a slanderer is no better than the uncharmed snake."
Four of the seven things that God hates are connected with perversity and slander: a lying tongue, a heart that devises wicked plans, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.
How much important truth is revealed in this verse and what devastation can be carried out by "a perverse man who spreads strife or a slanderer who causes division."
May we seek after the good and shun the evil, and live godly lives in Christ Jesus, for the honour of His name.
Heavenly Father, there are many that spread strife and cause division through gossip and lies or they lack integrity and demean others. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked and save me from perverse people and those that seek to control the lives of others. I pray that my lips may be filled with gracious speech and healing words and that I develop an empathetic and listening ear. May I acknowledge You in all my ways and develop an understanding heart by Your grace. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.