For too long the myth has been circulated that old speech habits can’t be broken:
· I can’t help it…I’ve always been a sarcastic person
· …always told little white lies
· …always used profanity
· …always been a gossip
· …always said nasty things when I get mad
IF we have a problem of speaking ‘what we think,’ we need to be careful about what we think!
In the beginning, God created man and woman to communicate powerfully, lovingly, and constructively.
In Christ he gives the recreated man and woman assurance of the same magnificent possibility.
Sins of the Tongue
Proverbs 10:21: “The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.”
Proverbs 12:18: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:4: “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 16:24: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Do my words bring healing or harm? God expects us to know the answer to that question and to make the necessary changes if needed!
When we might suggest that our words are not that powerful, we would do well to remember the verbal integrity of many early Christians. They were commanded to speak these words: “Caesar is Lord” as they were ordered to “make your incense offering to the genius of Rome.” If they would not say such words, they were definitely put in prison and, on many occasions, they were even put to death!
Sins of the tongue
The New Testament has much to say about the ways we can abuse the gift of speech:
1. Angry talk. Words uttered in a fit of temper; a sudden outburst of wrathful speech (2 Cor. 12:20; Col. 3:8).
2. Boasting, arrogant talk. Bragging; conceited, self-centered, self-glorifying speech (2 Tim. 3:2; James 4:16).
3. Blasphemy. Speaking contemptuously of God or of Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 1:20; 6:1).
4. Coarse joking. Vulgar humor; particularly the mocking of human sexuality (Eph. 5:4).
5. Deception, distortion. Mingling the truth with false ideas or unworthy motivations. Paul spoke of some who “peddled” God’s Word, corrupting the gospel for personal gain or advantage (2 Cor. 2:17, 4:2).
6. Flattery. Excessive or untrue praise; insincere complimenting of another to gain some personal advantage (1 Thess. 2:5; Jude 16).
7. Godless chatter. Profane or empty babbling; conversation which is irreligious, misleading, or worthless (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16).
8. Gossip. Spreading idle talk, rumor or even truthful/factual personal information about others; betraying a confidence (2 Cor. 12:20; 1 Tim. 5:13).
9. Lying. Making false statements with intent to deceive or mislead (Acts 5:4; Col. 3:9).
10. Obscenity. Using profane or vulgar language; unwholesome conversation (Eph. 5:4; Col. 3:8).
11. Quarreling. Heated verbal strife; unkind argumentation or debate (1 Cor. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:23-24).
12. Slander. Damaging someone’s reputation by speaking malicious or untrue things about them (Eph. 4:31; James 4:11).
2 Corinthians 4:2: “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
2 Corinthians 12:20: “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”
Ephesians 5:4: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”
Colossians 3:8: “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
James 4:11: “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.”
The common effect of all the sins of the tongue is destruction. Speech infected by sin destroys truth, destroys trust, destroys reputation, destroys love, and destroys love for God and man.
Yet the abuses of language mentioned above are commonplace in our offices, around our neighborhoods, on our campuses, and even within our churches. We need someone to redeem our speech, to tame our tongues.
“The rabbis used to say that the tongue is more dangerous than the hand because the hand kills only at close range while the tongue can kill at great distance.”
Man can tame the great creatures but not his own tongue.
Lehman Strauss says: “While no man can tame the tongue, there is One who can. The Lord is no less able to control a lying, blaspheming, slanderous, gossiping tongue than He is to deliver the drunkard from alcohol, the gambler from the game table, the narcotics addict from drugs, or the lustful person from adultery” (James Your Brother. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1956, p.134).
Matthew Henry says: “‘No man can tame the tongue without supernatural grace and assistance.’ The apostle does not intend to represent it as a thing impossible, but as a thing extremely difficult, which therefore will require great watchfulness, and pains, and prayer” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 6, p.985).
I grew up in a faithful, church-going family. I think I learned early in life what a Christian is to sound like….pious words on Sunday don’t offset the gossip of Monday, the profanity of Tuesday, or the harsh words on Wednesday.
Do we realize the power we possess to strengthen another person with simple words: “good job” “I’m sorry” “Forgive me” “I love you” “I’m praying for you”