I was preparing a bible study on "proper speech" for our women's small group last week. The beauty of preparing a bible study lesson instead of just being on the receiving end, is that you have no choice but to meditate and research and study further into the key passage for many days. And every single time, the Spirit pulls out all the dirty laundry in my heart for me to see.
Several times a day and EVERY day of the week, I had to stop my speech or even a thought because it weighed on my conscience. What I'm about to say reflects the state of my heart...repeating that in my head over and over, I found myself holding my tongue way more often than I had in the past.
Here are some facts about the tongue:
1. Our tongue is always readily available for us to either sin or bless with.
2. Our tongue is small and hidden in our bodies so we often underestimate its power.
3. Such a small member of the body can do SO MUCH damage, like a small fire that spreads and burns down an entire forest.
"So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell." James 3:5-6
Honestly, how often do you ask yourself the question, "is what I'm about to blurt out glorifying to God"? How often have you thought about what you had said earlier that day to someone and wondered if you said it well? Is it possible there is someone out there who is still aching over what you said and you don't even know it? Do you ever slander someone's character ungraciously? I know I am guilty of all these things, and I am thankful today that the Spirit is pulling at my heart. It's not a happy thought. It's humiliating and unpleasant. But friends, we are human. God himself said that we cannot tame our tongue, it's actually quite impossible!
"but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing." James 3:8-10a
Here are some ways we sin with our tongue:
1. We gossip: we are so used to justifying it in our heads and the listeners "devour" it like "delicious morsels" (Proverbs 18:8). (Here are some excuses we might use to justify gossiping: prayer request for someone else, seeking advice about someone, simply sharing some news, warning someone about someone else etc. While these can be legitimate, our tendency is to get carried away and emotional.)
3. We flatter rather than encourage: flattering is for a selfish motive, while biblical encouragement comes from a genuine place without expecting anything in return
4. We lie
5. We curse
6. We mock and use sarcasm that stings
7. We say inappropriate jokes that may stumble others
8. We complain and grumble (like the Israelites in the wilderness)
9. We criticize ungraciously
10. We call people out ungraciously in the name of rebuking them (biblical rebuking is different from being unnecessarily harsh and intolerant—Galatians 6:1, Matthew 18:15-20)
My goodness, do you feel as convicted as I do? The list can go on and on...things start looking hopeless. But that's not the end for Christians.
God did NOT say the tongue cannot be tamed at all.
"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:17-18
For us believers, we have the Spirit within us that guides and pulls at our hearts so that our actions and thoughts CAN glorify our Maker. The Spirit teaches us the "wisdom from above". There is our hope. There is our purpose.
Friends, I want us to be clear about one thing: The tongue is the REVEALER of the heart. (John MacArthur)
"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45
Our speech reveals what we are made of, where we are in our walk with God, and where we are as Christians. This is a sobering thought for me, and I think it's meant to be. My prayer is that our words will be a blessing and not a weapon toward the world and the Church. That our thoughts and words will glorify God ultimately.
For His glory,
Download that wallpaper HERE :)