It seems to me that slander is the special sin of those who aspire to the life of sanctification. Aspire, I say, that is, merely try to attain to this better way, by their useless efforts apart from trust in the strength and righteousness of the living Christ.
Slander is still sin, even when reporting to others what may be true, because it is the opposite of love. It is uncovering another’s sin instead of covering it, as love commands, and diverting judgment to others and averting it from ourselves.
Trusting in ourselves, in our meager efforts and filthy-raggish righteousness, we abandon trust in God, and lay our souls open to the ravages of invisible devils, who incite us to judge our neighbors for failing to follow standards we blindly unfulfill.
Trusting in Christ, who is our righteousness and sanctification, we humbly follow the commandments. If we ‘see the donkey of someone who hates [us] fallen down under its load, [we] do not leave it there … [we] help him with it’ (Ex 23:5).
As we enter the Nativity Fast, brethren, let us remember. Do not give offense. Do not take offense. Forgive everyone everything right away. Do not remember evil. Do not aspire to heaven by your own efforts. Let Jesus carry you to safety.
Keep your fast pure, not only by refraining from animal foods, from butter and cheese, from milk and flesh, but remember the commandment, ‘Do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk’ (Ex 23:19) and keep it. Do not eat the flesh of the brethren by slander.
Of all sins, slander makes us the blindest, and we follow satan into darkness, who slandered the love of the Father for fashioning man in His image and planning to send the Son to enter the womb of woman to redeem us. Slander is the door to darkness.
But love is the gate of life and light, and it caused Him to put on our human nature and become one of us, to undo forever the works of darkness. Brethren, forgive me, Romanós the sinner, if I have offended you, especially if by slander, and let us set out on this road together.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.