And here, at last, we find the ever popular past-time of gossiping. St John ties this vice in with judging others and remembrance of wrongs. If we harbor hard feelings towards someone then we’re much more likely to speak poorly of that person to others. And if we are quick to judge, then we’ll also be quick to spread rumors about the activities of others as well. The wisdom of the Fathers on this topic can be boiled down to a pretty simple idea – keep your nose in your own business! They also remind us that our Lord commands us not to judge others, lest we be judged ourselves.

St John gives us a wonderful method for overcoming this temptation. He writes: 
“He who wants to overcome the spirit of slander should not ascribe the blame to the person who falls, but to the demon who suggests it. For no one really wants to sin against God, even though we all sin without being forced to do so” (Step10:5).

Any time we see a brother or sister fall, we are to immediately remove the blame from them and place it on the demon who tempted them to sim. Of course, we are all responsible for our own actions, but how many times have we found ourselves to be unable (or unwilling) to rise above the temptations we were faced with? Just as we fall 1,000 times a day and expect our God to forgive us in His mercy, so too should we be just as merciful to those around us. Even the most basic living out of this mercy will be a strong blow to our temptation to slander our brethren.

Matthew Jackson

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