Slandering a Mango
Tuesday - March 2nd
Devotionals from the Book of James
Scripture to Read Today: James 4:11-17
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.
In 1968, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong received 40 mangoes as a gift from the Pakistani foreign minister. He gave these mangoes to a group of workers who had recently ended a student revolt against his regime. At the time, mangoes were a novelty in China.
The mangoes from Pakistan took on a sort of religious significance and were revered like sacred relics. They were taken on tour all over the country and paraded through the streets. Mangoes began to take a prominent place in government propaganda, and consumer goods decorated with mangoes became widely available. As crazy as it sounds, those not caught up in the mango hysteria and hype created by the Mao regime had their loyalty and patriotism questioned.
But still, not everyone bought into the frenzy. A dentist in a rural village saw one of the forty "touring mangoes" from Pakistan and was unimpressed. He made the mistake of comparing the mango to a sweet potato. While they do look somewhat similar, the comparison was not well received by either the Mao government or the Chinese people. The dentist was officially charged with slander of a public government official, humiliated, and executed for his candor.
Can you imagine how dreadful the incident would have been to the man's family and friends? Can you imagine the sort of fear that kind of government action would instill in the hearts of its citizens? How absurd it was to charge a man with slander against a tropical fruit and then execute him for the "crime!"
While the story of slandering a mango is an extreme example, the Scriptures take the defamation of another person seriously. The dictionary defines "slander" as "making a malicious, false, and damaging statement against another." James 4:11-12 deals explicitly with derogatory statements made in judgment toward another member of God's family. Christians should not be known for the kinds of back-biting and gossip commonplace among those without Christ.
"Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another" (James 4:11). The form of the imperative used by James calls for the cessation of something that has already been taking place. He is calling us to "stop slandering one another." Unfortunately, his readers have already been guilty of back-biting and gossip. The injunction is to stop and to stop now!
Think about what you have said in recent weeks about others. Have you used language that lifts up or pulls down? Have you shared your thoughts about someone in a way that you know was unfair or undermining? Have you posted a comment about someone else online or on social media that may have been caustic or a half-truth?
Maybe you need to apologize to someone personally. Perhaps you need to delete a post.
Slander should have no place within the family of God. We should build up, not tear down one another.