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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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gossip

Just Because You Know It Doesn’t Mean You Have To Say It Part One

Now that we are done with “Play Nice,” we are moving on to another area in which we often don’t do very well at living out the Christian ideal. Most of this is not brand new, but some minor reworking of previously published articles. Enjoy!


What God has to say about Gossip

Gossip, backbiting, little white lies, tattling, gossip by prayer; whatever we call it there is little doubt that gossip in one of the most destructive things that can happen among a local body of believers.

Rather than jump right into my own words, we are going to do as we did at the beginning of the series on kindness; I will simply share some thought from God through His Word for readers to think on as we begin this part of our series.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Proverbs 20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Psalm 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Proverbs 11:13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Titus 3:2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

 

There are many, many more but my dear readers you need homework! What have I not included? Chime in the comments and let me know. Also, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in your lives and churches. Your comment could be the next post! Also, I think as we progress, we will talk not just about the dangers of gossip, but other things related to the tongue such as flattery and simple meanness. I really don’t know yet, as I tend to just follow where the spirit leads in these series.

Until next time!

12 Bible Verses about Gossip

I wish Heather had written this back when I was doing my series on gossip!

verses about gossip

 

  • Psalm 101:5 ESV
    Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
        I will destroy.
    Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
        I will not endure.
  • Psalm 141:3 NIV
    Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
        keep watch over the door of my lips.
  • Proverbs 11:13 NIV
    A gossip betrays a confidence,
        but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
  • Proverbs 16:28 NIV
    A perverse person stirs up conflict,
        and a gossip separates close friends.
  • Proverbs 17:9 ESV
    Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
        but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

Read the rest of the post here: 12 Bible Verses about Gossip

 

God’s Garden-Squash Gossip-The End-It’s Easy, Just Squash It!

My yesterday post from the Isaiah 53:5 Project

Seen on a Church Sign

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Gossip-Just Squash It!

Normally, I write my Church Sign series over here on the Isaiah 53:5 Project on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. My intention this week was to wrap up our teachings on gossip yesterday and today, and move in in another direction this upcoming Tuesday. Well, yesterday didn’t happen, so instead we will wrap up gossip today. We are going to squash gossip today.

That actually seems to have worked out pretty well, because all we are going to talk about today is how to stop gossip in our churches; what I discovered as I thought and prayed about what to say is the this is not rocket science. Ending gossip is quite easy and really doesn’t require many words. So, today I simply offer a few very simple thoughts on the matter.

How do we squash gossip on our churches?

Don’t do it. Don’t be the guilty one. That sounds too easy, but gossip is like any other sin. First we become tempted to do it, then we succumb to the temptation and do it.

Like any sin, flee temptation. Step away from the gossip. If drunkenness is a problem, most would avoid bars. If gossip is our problem, don’t hang out with the gossips.

Decide before hand. Remember Daniel and the King’s meat? Daniel’s obedience was no accident. Daniel had purposed in his heart, not to disobey. If we know a thing is a problem, it behooves us to pre plan how we will react to temptation, so as not to be caught by surprise.

Think before speaking. Are our words true? Are they kind? Most importantly, are the actually necessary?

Don’t stand by and be part of the problem. This is sort of a repeat. Step away from the Gossip. Our simply not participating in something can speak volumes about how we feel about it.

Teach others how to do right. Note here, that our responses are escalating in directness. When you walk away, somebody will eventually ask you why you do. Or, they actually might just gossip about you to tell the truth. If they do ask, be ready to explain why and teach them what God says about gossip.

Let’s escalate just a bit more. Nobody asks you?  Well, maybe it is time to ask them. Hey, my friend, may I speak with you? Love, kindness, and reasonableness can do a lot.

Confront it. Call it like it is, and call them out. I get that this is not for everybody, but in a way it is. Are you the leader in you family? Well, like it or not, you need to tell your flock gossip is a sin and they need to stop. Is a person being directly harmed by the words you hear? We all owe each other protection as brothers and sisters. Are you actually a leader in your church? Well, do I even need to address that? That is what leaders do…lead.

Sometimes we simply have to look another person in the eye and say in effect, “Hey, what you are doing is wrong, and it is sin. Stop it.”

By the way confrontations don’t have to be an in your face thing necessarily. Try this next time the church gossip comes to you with their “concern.”

“Hey I think it’s great you are concerned about (insert name here)! How about we go find them and we can all have a little talk about your concern.”

It’s easy readers. Gossip is like a cancer in our churches, but it is also quite treatable and curable.

Just Squash it

Read the original post and more at the Isaiah 53:5 Project

 

God’s Garden-Squash Gossip Part 6-What’s The Harm Anyway?

My yesterday’s post from The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Seen on a Church Sign

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What’s the Harm, Anyway?

In our previous post, we discussed the fact that gossip is a sin. Like any sin, it is equal in severity to any other sin. The basic premise being that any sin, small or large, separates us from a just and holy God just as much as any other sin. I think we also understand that, while in that sense all sins are equal that some of our sins do have more serious impact on the people and the world around us. Some sins compound themselves, more or less. That seems to be the point at which we begin to minimize the sin of gossip, because in our efforts to hold on to it, we find ways to reduce the seriousness of it by concluding it “really isn’t that bad”, and “Oh, that’s really not hurting anybody.”

Is that true? Is gossip a harmless sin? Let’s dig into that a little bit.

Sin hurts God. I know we keep going back to that, but that is ultimately the place we should always go. I think taking a look at one of the most notorious episodes of sin in the Bible might help us understand this better. That would be the sin of David and his dalliance with Bathsheba. It simply can’t be denied that many, many people were harmed by this particular episode. Bathsheeba was likely hurt by this episode, as she lost a husband and a child during the course of it. Uriah, her husband was certainly hurt considering he lost his very life as a result. Although we don’t have time to really cover it here, the case is very strong that David’s actions set in motion events within his own family that ultimately destroyed the nation of Israel. Many, many people were harmed by David’s actions.

Of course, we are all familiar with Psalm 51, David’s famous prayer of repentance for his great sin. We aren’t studying that in and of itself, but one thing is very notable in David’s prayer. Now, we don’t know if David ever sought forgiveness from those he had harmed, but he certainly never addressed that in his prayer, as he said the following:

Psalm 51:3,4 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,

First and foremost, our sins always hurt God, and are against God.

Great you say, our sin hurts God. But other than that, a little gossiping doesn’t really hurt anybody does it?

Gossip hurts the gossiper. That would be you and I. Gossip is a condition of the heart, and it is sin. Like any sin against God we commit, sin destroys our fellowship with God. We cannot be walking in step with God, if we are living in sin. If we are habitually gossiping, we are living in sin. Therefore we will not have an intimate relationship with Him.

Gossip destroys friendships.

Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

Gossip undermines church leadership. How many of us have Pastor, Sunday School teacher, or Choir Director for Sunday dinner?

Gossip destroys unity in our local bodies of believers. Gossip does not edify. Anything that does not edify, destroys. Gossip destroys trust among groups of people. If I tell you things that I should not share, of course you will be wondering what I later say about you and to whom.

Gossip creates an unsafe place for people to be. Our churches should be safe places of love and comfort. The only thing uncomfortable anyone should ever feel in our churches is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. How many people leave a body of believers, or never become part of one because of fear about what people are saying?

James 3:1-10

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

My brothers and sisters, this should not be

Next: How can we stop gossip?

God’s Garden-Squash Gossip Part 5-The Sin of Gossip

My post from yesterday at the Isaiah 53:5 Project

Seen on a Church Sign

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The Sin of Gossip

Romans 1:29-32

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Let’s not sugarcoat this. I say that because gossip in our local bodies of believers tends to be minimized, scoffed at, and dismissed as a not so serious thing. Anybody ever sidled up to their friend and said with a smirky little smile on their face, “Oh, I don’t mean to gossip, but…..?” That is what I am talking about, and I know most readers can see that in their minds. The reason most of us can see that in our minds is that we have either done it or participated in it willingly. I have. If you have not, raise your cyber hand. If you raised it you are likely, as the old joke goes, guilty of the sin of lying also now.

What is typically our reaction when confronted with such a situation on our Christian lives? I would venture to say the in 99.99 percent of the cases, we with go along willingly and participate, or go along by remaining silent and allowing the conversation to continue. Perhaps in that .1 percent, some person might say, “Hey, wait, stop! I don’t’ want to participate in this, because it’s simply wrong.” Let’s rephrase our sin a little bit and see how we would feel about things then. Picture these conversations:

“Hey, how about we head down to the bar and have us a few beers before we come back for evening service?”

“Hey, deacon, let’s me and you go to the lake and check out the girls in bikinis.”

“Hey, friend, let’s find somebody weak and vulnerable and pick on them until they cry.”

“Hey, business buddy, I have a great scheme going and if you come in we can make just a pile of money. It’s not really honest, but we can make piles!”

Now, I would like to think that most of us would not only not go along with the things described above, but would likely call the person out on the sinfulness of their suggestion.

Now might be a good time for me to point out that what I feel as I write this is NOT smugness or that I am entitled to point my bony finger at readers; what I feel as I write this is CONVICTION.

Gossip is not fun, it is not harmless chatter, and it is not minor. Gossip is sin. How does it rank in the order of the sin hierarchy? That’s a trick question, as there IS no sin hierarchy.

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

One sin, that is all it takes. If the only sin we ever committed in our entire lives was to spread a single questionable or untrue thing about another, we would be separated from God as surely as if we had spent a lifetime as a mass murderer. Ouch huh? Please understand that our gossip and our mass murder are all forgivable due to the actions of our perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ.

Why, then do we virtually ignore the sin of gossip in our ranks and yet rail endlessly about the other things we have chosen to be our “pet” sins? Could it be that we find certain other sins personally distasteful, but enjoy our gossiping? Let’s be nice to ourselves and say that is not our motivation. Let us say we are motivated by the fact that, even though sin is sin, some things do cause more harm to other people and the world around us than other things cause. Fair enough. Gossip isn’t really THAT harmful, right?

Let’s talk about that. Because, of course it is harmful and we will be discussing that soon. In the meantime, I would love to hear from readers on their experiences and thoughts about the harm caused by gossip.

Read the original post at the Isaiah 53:5 Project

 

God’s Garden-Squash Gossip Part 3-James On the Dangerous Tongue

This morning there will be an extra post. Somehow in all the vacation hubbub I forgot to post on my own site this installment of my God’s Garden series from The Isaiah 53:5 Project. For those following the series here, this will provide a link from the last one posted and next week when we resume.

Seen On a Church Sign

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James 3:5-12

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.


Read all of James Chapter 3 here

The Destructive Power of the Tongue

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

It may be, that a more untrue statement was never written, or said actually, since I can remember it vividly from my school days. Think back, when did we normally invoke that phrase way back then? Usually when the exact opposite was true was when we would recite that phrase. In other words, we usually made a point to say that to somebody who had just hurt us with their words.!

Here, James uses a great comparison to discuss the destructive power of our tongues, or our speech. Earlier he compared the small tongue’s ability to control our conduct to a bit in a horses mouth, or the small rudder piloting a giant ship. Here, he compares the destructive power of the small tongue with a tiny spark which ignites a huge fire.

One of the most notable examples of this, of course, is the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Although started by something so small as a lantern in a barn, this great fire eventually burned almost half of the city of Chicago to the ground.

Two of the greatest men in the Old Testament, recognized the power of the tongue and issued guidance about controlling it. David and his son Solomon both wrote about the destructive power of speech. As David was somewhat hot tempered, we should strongly consider his words in this matter.

Psalm 39:1-3 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

Solomon had the following to say:

Proverbs 17:27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.

Proverbs 14:29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

The tongue and fire have other similarities as well. Few would dispute that a fire under control can have many benefits, and can be used for much good. On the other hand, few would dispute that a fire, like a mouth, out or control can cause massive devastation.

What do we do with our tongues? Do we use them for good, for edifying believers or telling the Gospel to unbelievers? Or do we use them for evil  by teaching untruths, gossiping or pushing the non believing away from Jesus Christ?

The Tongue is the Fire of Hell

This is quite likely the strongest statement in the entire Bible concerning the misuse of the tongue in our lives. I this simple sentence, James quite completely and unequivocally lays the dangers of the misuse of it right out.

The tongue is a world of iniquity.” One Bible translation words this, “the tongue is the very world of iniquity.” One writer describes this as referring to a system, scheme or arrangement. It is a system of iniquity that represents every other sin of mankind.

The tongue defiles our entire body. We already discussed the comparison of the tongue to a bit in a horses mouth or the rudder of a ship. How those two things direct something much larger than themselves, so does our tongue. In this case, the sins of the tongue defile the whole person.  It’s similar to the fire and the smoke damage it causes. The fire itself may not destroy everything, but the smoke permeates and ultimately ruins even what the fire doesn’t touch.

The tongue is “set on fire of hell.” This particular description was simply fascinating. The word for Hell here is from the term gehenna. This was the Valley of Hinnom to the south of Jerusalem. This is the place where the Caananites and idolatrous Israelites had gone for their child sacrifices. Because all that activity had rendered that place unclean, it was finally used as simply a garbage dump. So, this was simply a big, rotting garbage dump, constantly burning and maggot filled. Jesus used the same term to represent Hell, the place which God had prepared for Satan and his demons. This comparison of the tongue with Hell strongly implies that the tongue can be Satan’s tool to pollute and corrupt.

We Can’t Tame Our Tongue

Man, in the Garden of Eden, was clearly given dominion over all of the animals of the world. Genesis 1:26.Even today, after the fall, we know that human kind is generally able to control the beasts of the world.

We need to look no further than the nearest circus to see that man is able to bring the largest, and most terrifying of animals under his control. Lion, tigers and the largest of land animals, the elephant can be controlled by one tiny human being.

However, our tongue is an “unruly evil.” In its natural state, our tongue is similar, if not worse, than any wild animal. It is wild, untamed and without discipline. Rather than tromping us or eating us, however, our tongues destroy by lies, gossip, slander and filthy language.

James tells us that no man can tame the tongue. In and of ourselves, we cannot even to the same to our mouths as we can do with a huge elephants; we cannot tame it our bring it under control.

Since James’ Epistle is about Christian living, the solution to our problem seems readily evident. Like any sin, sins of the tongue can be managed by the saved person through the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit. We certainly do not have the power to do it, but God does!

David, back in the Old Testament, had something to say about how we actually take advantage of the strength of the Holy Spirit to control our tongues in Psalm 141:3:

Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

Gossip Is Poisonous

Gossip: the favorite indoor sport of many Christians. In an earlier Devotion, we talked about that old school yard saying on how sticks and stones hurt, but words do not. We all know that is patently untrue, because words do hurt; gossip and lies about other believers is one of the primary ways we use our words to wound other believers.

I have heard a particular story several times over the years, and I would like to relate it here as an illustration of how the power of gossip spreads. In a particular church, there was a woman who had, over time, spread some completely untrue things about another woman in the congregation. Ultimately, these lies had just ruined the reputation of the victim. One day, the woman who had spread the slander came to realize that everything she had said was untrue and unfounded. To her credit, she was seized by remorse and wanted to make things right. She went to her pastor, seeking guidance on how to accomplish a repair of what she had done. He pastor told her to take a down pillow, filled with fine feathers, and scatter them in the streets of town; he then told her to come back and see him the next day. Upon her return, the pastor instructed her to walk the city streets and gather the feathers and put them back in the pillow. Instantly she responded, “Well, of course I can’t ever gather those feathers back!” His response to her: “Correct, and unfortunately you can never gather back the words you said either.”

The Bible has much to say about the subject of gossip. In Romans Chapter 1, as Paul is laying out the list of the sins of man which have separated us from God, gossipers were right there in the middle of the list. In verses 29 and 30 he referred to them as “whisperers,” and “backbiters.”

Solomon had much to say about the subject as he wrote Proverbs as well.

Proverbs 11:12,13 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

Proverbs 18:7,8 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

Visualize the following if you will. If a man stands up during church prayer time and offers the following prayer: “Lord, please deliver my friend Joe from his alcohol and drug addiction, his womanizing and his little gambling problem. Thank you, Father, and Amen!” Is that a prayer request? Not really. That would be gossip shrouded in the guise of a prayer request.

What then, do we do about his issue? How do we fix ourselves? A wise older gentleman I know, who has never been known to say a bad word about anyone, offered the following advice to us all one day:

Is it true? If it’s not, stop right there.

Is it necessary? Just because it’s true does not mean it has to be said.

Is it kind? Neither truth or need matter if the words are unkind.

I don’t think any words are necessary to add to that!

The Danger of Flattery

One writer I read commenting on the Book of James said the following: “If gossip is saying behind someone’s back what you would never say to their face, then flattery is saying to someone’s face what you would never say behind their back.”

What is flattery? Well flattery and compliments are not the same; that is why the saying above rings so very true. A compliment is good for the person being complimented, whereas flattery is primarily for the benefit of the person giving the praise. And that, in a nutshell, is why God has a problem with flattery.

Like almost anything having to do with our tongue, we can find much guidance on the subject of flattery in the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 6:24; 7:5; and 7:21 all teach us that a flattering woman can lead us into trouble.

Flattery is put in the same league as lying and deception in Psalm 5:9 and Romans 16:18.

As we have been discussing, James is trying to teach us how to live the Christian life; he is attempting to teach us how our salvation will always result in some fruit, or action as a result. What’s that got to do with what James is teaching? Well everything, really. Because just as hard as James is trying to teach us how to do right, there are a host of people trying to teach us wrong. These would be false teachers, and flattery is one of their primary weapons in their arsenal.

Paul warns clearly of this danger in Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Peter likewise warns of this in 2 Peter 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

Here’s a question just for bloggers. Ever like, comment or follow just in the hopes of getting one yourself? A little encouragement in there just to make it look good? Of course we have to engage others to build a network of readers, but where is the line? I would really like people’s thoughts on that one.

Talking From Both Sides Of Your Mouth

Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary series, used the following illustration:

A man at work one day, a professing Christian, got angry and turned loose with a series of oaths and profanities. Embarrassed, he turned to his coworker and said, “I don’t know why I said that. It really isn’t in me.” His partner wisely replied, “It had to be in you, or it wouldn’t have come out of you.”

In real life, I had a friend who faced a similar situation. He, in his younger days(while a believer), had been noted for letting loose with an oath or two when angry or upset. One day, he decided he should clean up his act and quit all of that. His solution was to pick some simple nonsensical word to use in situations where before he would have cursed. I don’t recall what he said the word was, but I do recall that he said he would use that word in place of a curse word. Let’s say the word was “bullfrog.” Every time he would get angry, instead of cursing, he would say, “bullfrog.” That went along fine until one day a coworker, who happened to be a non believer, said the following: “You realize, of course, that using that stupid word doesn’t really change what you mean, right?” Ouch.

Discerning what James is teaching us here is not particularly difficult; in fact, it is very easy. We have already studied the tongue quite a bit, and this passage just continues this analysis.

Note some of his comparisons here: blessing and cursing, sweet and bitter, salt water and fresh. The common vein among these is simple; one of each pair is good and one is not good.

If we show through our words both good and bad consistently, which would see say is the real reflection of what is really inside?

Read the original post on the Isaiah 53:5 Project

God’s Garden-Squash Gossip Part 2-James On the Powerful Tongue

My post from yesterday over at the Isaiah 53:5 Project

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The Powerful Tongue

Well, as I said yesterday, even though strictly speaking this is about gossip it is likely we will detour into other areas. In fact, we begin our detour today! It’s hard to separate the sins of the tongue from each other, as they are all very much intertwined. As we begin to take a look at this, I will be drawing heavily on some previous writings I did concerning the Book of James. In fact it is more or less a rerun of the material, but I think we will find it useful.

James 3:1-4

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.


Read all of James Chapter 3 here

Taming the The Tongue

James apparently had strong feelings about the role of the tongue, or the words we speak, in the life of the believer.  He actually mentions it in every single chapter of his book, in fact. He mentions it in the following passages: 1:19,26; 2:12; 3:5,6,8; 4:11; and 5:12.

Reading what James has to say about our speech and we can see the idea of the tongue not only being the reflection of what is in our hearts, but also representative of the depravity of our nature.

Also, since James’ primary objective with his Epistle seems to be to teach believers how to behave, it follows in line that one of his lessons here is that the ability to control one’s tongue is a mark of a mature believer.

Let’s just take a look at some of the thoughts God shared with us regarding the tongue in His Word for today’s devotional.

When Paul was illustrating to us all our fallen condition, in Romans 3:13-15, he listed 5 organs of the body which are common vehicles for sin: throat, tongue, lips, mouth and feet. It seems very significant that four of the five have to do with our speech!

Some of the most Godly men in the Bible had issues holding their tongues, as well; Moses (Psalms 106:32-33), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5,7), and Job (Job 40:4) all had tongue issues at some point.

The tongue is described using many words in Scripture: wicked, deceitful, perverse, filthy, corrupt, flattering, slanderous, gossiping, blasphemous, foolish, boasting, and many others.

Jesus even had thoughts about our tongues

Matthew 12:36,37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Our words are similar to a sound wave broadcast into the air. Eventually, that sound wave will reach the far parts of  space in a never ending journey; not only that, but the trip cannot be cancelled. Once that sound wave or our words start their journey, they cannot be brought back to the source and packed away.

What do our words say about our walk with Christ? If our words are a reflection of our heart, then what do we reveal about our heart when we speak?

The Tongues of Teachers

Why does James lead off a passage detailing the misuse of the tongue, and our speech, with an opening sentence about masters, or teachers? That is a good question, so let’s explore it briefly. There are several possible applications of this teaching.

Teachers shall receive the greater condemnation. Teachers should be persons of great Christian maturity, and the ability to speak proper things in a proper way is a sign of that maturity. Anyone who places themselves in that position will be held to a high standard of judgment for the things they say while in that position. Here is  a good illustration of this principle.

Luke 12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Why then, this initial mention of the responsibilities of those who teach to bridle the tongue? It seems pretty straightforward. If the tongue in and of itself has great power when used just by one person to another, how much more powerful is a misused tongue in the mouth of a person influencing many?

Does this teaching apply to all of us? Primarily, this is directed to those holding positions of responsibility, such as pastors, evangelists, preachers and teachers. But, on the other hand, don’t we all teach somebody? Parents teach their children. Believers teach non believers. Mature believers teach newer believers. Every single one of us has a circle of influence, whether large or small. We need to insure that we mature in Christian behavior in such a way that our use of our tongue causes no harm, but only good.

The Power Of the Tongue

What I am about to say is simply the thoughts and opinions of one man, but this is simply one of the most vivid and descriptive passages in all of God’s Word. As we have covered, James is teaching the point that one of the ways we illustrate Christian maturity is by learning to control our tongue. He has also made the point earlier that by controlling our tongue, we can control the entirety of our bodies.

This seems rather like the two greatest commandments, the ones given by Jesus to the questioning Scribe in Matthew Chapter 22. When the scribe was attempting to trip Jesus up by pinning Him down to stating one commandment as more weighty than another, Jesus neatly rolled them all up in two simple directives: Love God above all else, and love one’s neighbor as oneself. The reason He did this was to show that by doing these two things, all other requirements would naturally follow as an outflow.

The tongue is like that. We can see in Verse 2 of our passage James stating that if a man can learn to control his tongue, he can control his entire body. James doesn’t seem to mean this in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense regarding the whole of our behavior. In other words, if what issues from our mouth tends to be God honoring and God exalting, then likely the rest of our behavior will be as well. Then he moves on to show two very clear examples of the smallest of things exercising the greatest of control.

The first example is that of a horse. It’s quite amazing, really that an animal weighing in at over a half a ton can be easily controlled by a 100 pound rider simply through a tiny metal bit in their mouth. Likewise the direction and course of a large ship can be controlled by no more than a small rudder which is only a fraction of the size of the ship.

Our tongues, and our speech are like the bit or the rudder. They are only a small part of us physically, but they can and do turn us in whatever direction they point. If our speech is Christlike, then we will be likewise Christlike. If our speech is the opposite, then our behavior will be as well.

A Controlled Tongue Shows Maturity

As I was preparing this Devotional, I received in my Blog feed a wonderful poem written by blogger Gloryteller. Rather than write anything on this issue today, I am including his poem as a powerful illustration of words, the tongue, and their proper role in the lives of mature Christian believers.

A Farmer of Words

I want to be a farmer of words
I want to nurture words
I want to plant them in good soil
Cultivate them
Grow them until mature
Make them fruitful
Pick them and harvest them
Squeeze out their nutritious juices
Prepare them deliciously
Give them to those in need of
A good word

I want to begin a culture of
Word husbandry.

Read the original post here: God’s Garden-Squash Gossip Part 2-James On the Powerful Tongue on the Isaiah 53:5 Project

God’s Garden-Squash Gossip-Part 1-What God Says

By Wally Fry originally posted yesterday on the Isaiah 53:5 Project

lettuce

Squash Gossip

Gossip, backbiting, little white lies, tattling, gossip by prayer; whatever we call it there is little doubt that gossip in one of the most desctuctive things that can happen among a local body of believers.

Rather than jump right into my own words, we are going to do as we did at the beginning of the series on kindness; I will simply share some thought from God through His Word for readers to think on as we begin this part of our series.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Proverbs 20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Psalm 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Proverbs 11:13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Titus 3:2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

There are many, many more but my dear readers you need homework! What have I not included? Chime in the comments and let me know. Also, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in your lives and churches. Your comment could be the next post! Also, I think as we progress, we will talk not just about the dangers of gossip, but other things related to the tongue such as flattery and simple meanness. I really don’t know yet, as I tend to just follow where the spirit leads in these series.

Until next time!

Read this post and more at the Isaiah 53:5 Project

Daily Devotion-January 19, 2015-Gossip Is Poisonous

James 3:8,9

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.


Read all of James Chapter 3 here

Gossip: the favorite indoor sport of many Christians. In an earlier Devotion, we talked about that old school yard saying on how sticks and stones hurt, but words do not. We all know that is patently untrue, because words do hurt; gossip and lies about other believers is one of the primary ways we use our words to wound other believers.

I have heard a particular story several times over the years, and I would like to relate it here as an illustration of how the power of gossip spreads. In a particular church, there was a woman who had, over time, spread some completely untrue things about another woman in the congregation. Ultimately, these lies had just ruined the reputation of the victim. One day, the woman who had spread the slander came to realize that everything she had said was untrue and unfounded. To her credit, she was seized by remorse and wanted to make things right. She went to her pastor, seeking guidance on how to accomplish a repair of what she had done. He pastor told her to take a down pillow, filled with fine feathers, and scatter them in the streets of town; he then told her to come back and see him the next day. Upon her return, the pastor instructed her to walk the city streets and gather the feathers and put them back in the pillow. Instantly she responded, “Well, of course I can’t ever gather those feathers back!” His response to her: “Correct, and unfortunately you can never gather back the words you said either.”

The Bible has much to say about the subject of gossip. In Romans Chapter 1, as Paul is laying out the list of the sins of man which have separated us from God, gossipers were right there in the middle of the list. In verses 29 and 30 he referred to them as “whisperers,” and “backbiters.”

Solomon had much to say about the subject as he wrote Proverbs as well.

Proverbs 11:12,13 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

Proverbs 18:7,8 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

Visualize the following if you will. If a man stands up during church prayer time and offers the following prayer: “Lord, please deliver my friend Joe from his alcohol and drug addiction, his womanizing and his little gambling problem. Thank you, Father, and Amen!” Is that a prayer request? Not really. That would be gossip shrouded in the guise of a prayer request.

What then, do we do about his issue? How do we fix ourselves? A wise older gentleman I know, who has never been known to say a bad word about anyone, offered the following advice to us all one day:

Is it true? If it’s not, stop right there.

Is it necessary? Just because it’s true does not mean it has to be said.

Is it kind? Neither truth or need matter if the words are unkind.

I don’t think any words are necessary to add to that!

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