"A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter" (Proverbs 11:13).
Sometimes we may think that we are doing good by revealing a matter to must reveal a matter. This situation may involve abuse on a family member or neighbor. Or, if a person has told you that he or she is thinking of committing suicide, this should probably be reported.
But, each situation must be evaluated properly before considering revealing the incident to others. A lot of harm can happen to a person if we inconsiderately disclose an issue to others that is best kept to oneself.
Talebearing can be like a raging fire that is started by a spark in dry grass. Someone's reputation can be destroyed, trust can be devastated, and we may be committing an act which can never be taken back.
Therefore, the Proverb says, "...but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter." There have been times in all of our lives when we have done things for which we are profoundly ashamed. If someone were to broadcast such actions to others we would feel horrified. It is enough that God knows what we did, and if we have repented of those evil deeds then all is well.
In the book of Esther we find two examples of talebearing, one for evil and one for good.
The first example of talebearing is found in chapter 3, beginning with verse 1. "After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. Then the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment? Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew" (verses 1-4).
Furthermore, we find in verses 8-10 where Haman, himself, told the king about the Jews. "And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that others. But, most of the time we are probably meddling in another's affairs with which we have no business doing. It is true that there are times when we have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy."
The purpose of these talebearings was to destroy the Jews. Now we find where Mordecai tells a man named Hatach the things which Haman was about to do. This situation is found in chapter 4, verses 5-9: "Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king’s chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was. So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king’s gate. And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them. Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to show it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people. And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai."
We can see the obvious differences in these two examples. The talebearing of Haman was to destroy the Jews, including Mordecai, and the talebearing of Mordecai was to preserve the lives of the Jews, including himself and Esther. Maybe this should be our signal whether to give up a secret to others or not: will it bring life and health to others, restored relationships, and bring glory and honor to the Lord? Or, will it cause hurt, destroyed relationships, and bring shame to everyone involved?
Proverbs 26:20 instructs us: "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." May we never add wood to the fire.
By David DeLong