What does the Bible say about backstabbing?

BibleAsk Team

Backstabbing is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as betrayal (by a verbal attack against one not present) especially by a false friend.

Backstabbing – Example in the Old Testament

David wrote about an incident where he personally experienced backstabbing, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance” (Psalms 55:12-13).

It is most likely that David was referring to Ahithophel, his Counselor who betrayed him and united with Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 15:31; 16:23). Ahithophel had been the counselor of David before he became the counselor of Absalom (1 Samuel 15:12). He had been held in great regard for his wisdom. But as he threw his conscience aside, he began to seek any plan to achieve his wicked ends.

But God was with David and He gave him the victory by causing Absalom to ignore Ahithophel’s advice. Realizing that he would be treated as a traitor by David, Ahithophel hanged himself (2 Samuel 17:23). About backstabbing individuals, Solomon wrote, “Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18).

Backstabbing – Example in the New Testament

The words of Psalm 55 can also be seen in the actions of Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus that followed Him for three years. Although, he witnessed Jesus’ ministry, His teaching, and His many miracles, he “betrayed him” (Mark 3:19) for 30 pieces of silver because of his love for money (Matthew 26:13-15).

When this disciple saw that Jesus was condemned to be crucified, and was making no effort to save Himself, he felt remorse over his treachery but not real sorrow for his sin. Then, he returned the 30 pieces of silver to the priests (Matthew 27:4) and then in despair committed suicide by hanging himself (Luke 27:5; Acts 1:18,19). This is the last mention of him in the scriptures. What a horrible end for a man that made money his idol.

Love One Another

Jesus said to His followers, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another“ (John 13:34). This command to love was not in itself new. It belonged to the instructions given by the Lord through Moses (Leviticus 19:18). The command was new in that a new example had been given of love, which the disciples were now asked to follow. By Christ’s life and death, He had opened to men a new revelation of God’s love (John 3:16).

Likewise, Paul admonished the believers saying, “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). Love is not just words but actions (2 John 1:6).

Walking in love is the first fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22,23). These qualities naturally develop in the life when the Spirit of God has control in the life of the believer (verse 18). Backstabbing, gossip, slander and hate are certainly not the fruits of God’s Spirit. They are the fruits of sinful nature ruled by Satan.

A person can’t claim to love God without loving his fellow men. Jesus said,  “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?“ (Matthew 7:16). People can pretend to love their fellow men but the acid test of their love is their actions. In the great hour of testing that lies ahead, only those who know the truth and practice it will be able to exhibit the loving qualities of their Master which will be free from backstabbing and all evil (Hosea 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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