Augustine reportedly had a sign on his wall that read, "He who speaks evil of an absent man or woman is not welcome at this table." That would have ended a lot of conversations, wouldn't it?
The Bible tells us to "get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior" (Ephesians 4:31). Slander speaks of saying evil things about others behind their backs.
Bitterness, which is an embittered and resentful spirit that refuses to be reconciled, makes the Holy Spirit sad and sorrowful. Yet some people like to be mad. They live for conflict. They live for arguments. They live for fighting. They seem to actually like it.
Then there are the people who avoid conflicts, and I will admit that I am one of them. I don't like conflict. I dread it in fact. But some people are just looking for something to fight about, and they seem to go from conflict to conflict. You probably know people like this. They are always mad at someone. They always have their nemesis, the one person who is the source of all their misery, and they are always talking about him or her. And they often are very critical, constantly nitpicking and trying to uncover things in other people's lives.
Yet I have made an interesting discovery: the person who has been covering up sin in his or her life typically is always trying to uncover sin in the lives of others. It never surprises me when I find that the most critical people are guilty of something far worse themselves.
So don't live that way. It grieves the Holy Spirit. If you let bitterness go unchecked, it could lead you to take the next step—and to something even worse.