One of my heroes of Christian ministry is Charles Simeon, who served Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England from 1782-1836.
To fight against the temptation to speak evil of others, Simeon formulated a strategy. In a July 1817 letter, he counseled:
“The longer I live, the more I feel the importance of adhering to the rules which I have laid down for myself in relation to such matters.
“1st To hear as little as possible what is to the prejudice of others.
“2nd To believe nothing of the kind till I am absolutely forced to it.
“3rd Never to drink into the spirit of one who circulates an ill report.
“4th Always to moderate, as far as I can, the unkindness which is expressed towards others.
“5th Always to believe, that if the other side were heard a very different account would be given of the matter.
“I consider love as wealth; and as I would resist a man who should come to rob my house so would I a man who would weaken my regard for any human being.”
-Hugh Evans Hopkins, Charles Simeon of Cambridge (Eerdmans, 1977), 134.