What can believers do for a believer who is the subject of damaging rumors?

What can believers do for a believer who is the subject of damaging rumors?

If the rumors are just passing stories that no one would take seriously, let them drift into nothingness. More harm than good might come from telling the person what others said. For example, if the person insisted on knowing who repeated the rumor, he would either be upset with you if you refused to tell him or upset with the person who told the rumor. You have become a talebearer who stirs up strife (Proverbs 26:20).

We should always ask for evidence to substantiate rumors about others, especially for persistent, harmful rumors. If supporting evidence is not available, make your disapproval clear. And never repeat damaging rumors (Titus 3:2; James 4:11). Wrongly damaging the reputation of others is serious (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Discussing the rumors in a friendly manner with the accused, without assuming the truthfulness of the rumors, would be a kindness, especially when accompanied by a sincere expression of concern that anyone would say such a thing. That would make it easier for the individual to admit that the rumor is true or partly true or else to affirm that it is totally false. Depending on its seriousness, you could even mention the supporting evidence you had been given. Every attempt should be made to contain the problem (Matthew 18:15). If the rumor arose from a clear case of misunderstanding, don't give the wronged person a case against the source of the rumor, but volunteer to try to correct the misunderstanding yourself.

If the rumor appears likely to be true and involves issues of concern to the assembly, a believer is responsible to go to an overseer and kindly, humbly, confidentially, carefully inform him. If the believer did not inform the assembly's leadership, he would be responsible for wrongfully covering the sin (Acts 5:2, 8-10). It is a mistaken kindness to support a believer in sinning against God.

When the overseers become aware of a possible problem, they are responsible to thoroughly investigate (Proverbs 25:2), visit the individual, and guide the assembly to act in keeping with the facts. The believer who passed on the information to the overseers has no further responsibility and must submit to their judgment (Hebrews 13:17).

D. Oliver