Zion Baptist Church
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Baptist Missionary Association of America
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By Mrs. Connie Reifsteck - February 2010
Oh, That Wayward Tongue!
The Bible gives us lots of instructions: how to live, how to love, how to pray, how to serve, how to worship, etc. We may not like the instructions, but that doesn’t change the fact they are right there in the Bible. One seriously hard part of the body to keep in check is the tongue, that slippery thing in your mouth that helps you form words to speak. And the words we speak, oh my, can they sometimes get us in trouble! Here are some of the instructions about the tongue and our words.
Lying Lips - Proverbs 10:18 “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”
That sounds pretty harsh, calling someone a fool who lies. Sometimes it seems easier, or is maybe less cruel, to go with a “little white lie”. But really, truthfulness is a great virtue to possess even though it is hard to maintain. That “little white lie” will eventually cause more trouble than it’s worth.
But a lie like pretending to care for someone we really don’t like is nothing compared to slandering that person. Slander is a bold-faced lie about another person. It’s nearly always impossible for the victim to disprove the lie, so the social, and emotional, damage can be permanent. If I can’t say something nice about someone, I surely shouldn’t slander them. In the heat of anger, we need to control our tongue, because what we say then can be as damaging to our own soul as it is to the victim’s reputation.
Tongue follows the heart - Psalm 139:4 “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” NIV
How often, especially as children but even as adults, have we asked someone, “Can you keep a secret?” Sometimes we can, but usually we can’t (or don’t). I heard someone say a secret ceases to be a secret when we have told one person.
We can’t keep a secret from God. Before a syllable falls off our tongue, God already knows what it will be. He knows our thoughts and emotions. Words can’t consistently hide feelings; usually they’ll directly reflect our own heart and soul. When you utter a sentence that shows what you really feel, the truth finally comes out.
And let’s not fool ourselves about the good old Christian standby “I know such and such about so and so. They really need our prayers“, or something similar, when really we are relating the misfortune of someone else. Unfortunately, many times that’s an excuse to spill the beans about somebody’s fall from the straight and narrow. There’s nothing wrong about asking for prayer, but be careful to leave the salacious details out of the conversation.
When we follow God closely, we need not worry. He can and will guard our tongue if we let Him. If our words glorify Him, they are not hurting someone else. When we stray from God’s direction, our language changes, and people observe the alteration. If our hearts belong to God, then our words should belong to God also.
Unsaying Words - James 1:26 “If any man among you seems to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
E-mail software has an option that says “unread”. I don’t do e-mail very often because all the buttons conspire to mess me up, and I admit to being technologically challenged (or a dinosaur). However, this option, I think, means you have an e-mail you haven’t read yet.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an “unsaid” button on our mouths? How many times have you said something and wished you could take it back? With an “unsaid” button, we could leave the wrong words behind the teeth, behind the tongue, and never let them see the light of day! Don’t think you can substitute the “delete” button for “unsaid”. Regretfully, once out, always out there.
We need to put our minds in gear before we open our mouths. Then instead of saying words that are hurtful and create bad feelings, we may say words that uplift and encourage. Our conversations need to bring unity and encouragement, and relate the assurance of God’s love and our hope of eternity, not hatefulness and illwill.
Words can rescue - Proverbs 12:6 “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them.” NIV
Good words keep us from harm and even protect us when threatened. Under our own power, we may be at a loss for the right words, but with the leadership of the Holy Spirit, our words are wiser and kinder. Without that direction it’s so easy to say things that hurt and harm.
When we hear the wicked speech of others, we need to be careful not to fall into their patterns. We need to shut our ears to the wrong words, turn our heads away from hurtful voices. By allowing our ears to hear only the still, small voice of God, our words will help instead of shedding blood.
We need God’s words to guide our hearts and tongues.