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The Power of the Tongue

By Watchman | May 22, 2009

                 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  (Psalm 141:3)

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness….A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15: 2&4)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21)

     There are supposed to be observable differences between those who are following in the ways of righteousness as set before us by the Lord God and those to whom “the preaching of the cross is…foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:18).”  Perhaps the most noticeable of these differences, and one which we Christians seem to have a great deal of difficulty in exhibiting, is that Christians are to bring their tongues under the discipline that is demanded by God.  Whether we are talking about the use of perverse or foul language or gossip or careless cruelty, we need to be certain that those words which escape our lips (or our fingers, in the case of what we post on the internet!) will be pleasing to our Savior.  We are often quick to condemn those who have a nightcap or a glass of wine with dinner,  forgetting at the same time Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:  “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated?  But those things which proceed  out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…”

    The rights of Christians seem to be dwindling as those who’s hearts are in the world are finding it more and more offensive to hear the gospel message spoken publically, while any speech that goes against the new idol of political correctness is considered to be hateful and worthy of condemnation.    Because of this, the human-nature part of us wants to go immediately into “react accordingly” mode; attacking those who have attacked us.  I’ve been on the Net, reading comments posted by non-Christians (and even some liberal Christians) that were so vile and offensive towards Christian posters that often the Christian has been goaded into retaliating in like manner.   While this is understandable, it is not how Scripture suggests that we answer those who ill-use us. 

 Jesus said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies; bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you and pray for them which spitefully use you and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. ” (Matthew 5:44, 45)

     We as Christians have kept silent for too long about the social evils that have been shaping our new world.  We have been fearful of being labelled as intolerant bigots or as “haters”, and some of the evil which has now become a normal part of our society might have never been allowed to gain such prominence had we spoken up at the onset of the ungodly propositions.  However, in trying to point the way to the righteousness of God through the salvation offered us by our Lord Jesus Christ , we must NOT take on the characteristics of those with whom we are in opposition!  We must speak out truth always, but always in love.  We must learn to see in those who would call us names in order to humiliate us not  implacable enemies, but the lost souls in desperate need of Jesus’ saving grace.  Instead of calling them names in return, we must speak out the truth of Christ and rejoice, as Paul did, that we may be “counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”  (Acts 5:41)

     God’s word tells us that someday we will have to give an account of every idle word that we speak.  I don’t believe that this was said to make us feel guilty about having enjoyable if not-very-important conversations with our friends and families.  God gave us interpersonal relationships for our well-being and enjoyment.  I believe this injunction was put upon us to make us mindful of the fact that gossiping and backbiting about those we know are sins for which we may be held accountable.   Again, gossiping about others is not showing to the world the love of Christ within us.  God intended us to reflect to others the love He rains down upon us.  Every time we carelessly speak against others, we have wantonly thrown away an opportunity to be an example of His love to the unbeliever. 

     Words matter.  A hurtful word, carelessly spoken and often immediately forgotten by the one who uttered it, may stay with a person for the rest of his/her life.  While a “soft answer” may “turn away wrath”, a harsh one may make a life-long enemy; a meanly-spoken admonition (however justified) may keep someone’s heart hardened against hearing the word of God.   Just as God chastens His children (Hebrews 12:7-11), we are expected to point out to an evil society those things which run counter to the everlasting word.  We are also expected to do so in such a way that those who would accept the chastening will exhibit the “peaceable fruit of righteousness.”




Topics: Kingdom Living | 1 Comment »

One Response to “The Power of the Tongue”

  1. Dirnov Says:
    May 23rd, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Ugh, I liked! So clear and positively.
    Thank you