[Papercut Press] 2000-09-11 - The Tongue

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

I have heard this story several times, and recently came upon it again while reading this weekend. It reminds us about our ability to find faults in others that are really matters of small import. We are prone to find the speck in others eyes when we have a log in our own eye. It seems among Christians graciousness is often a virtue that is little practiced. But we are to be gracious people. This little anecdote is a helpful little lesson.

The man in this story is Dr. Gill (1697-1771), one of the great heroes of the Baptist tradition. One person commented on his understanding of divine grace by saying of him, "Certainly no man has treated that momentous subject, the system of divine grace, in all its branches more closely, judiciously, and successfully." The bands that are mentioned in this story are things that would have been added to his robe to indicate his learning and status as a pastor.

"A very zealous professor of religion, in one of the non-conformist churches, went to Dr. Gill, and told him she had something against him, and that she considered it her duty to reprove him. "Well, my good lady," said the Doctor, "what is the difficulty?" "Why, Sir, I think your bands are too long." "Ah! Do you?" said he. "I have never thought anything about it: I will get a pair of scissors, and will thank you to cut off as much as you think best."

She replied, "I hope you will not be offended?" "Not at all,--not at all," said the Doctor. Without much ceremony, she folded, and cut off quite a large piece of the bands. "Are you now satisfied? Look again, and see: perhaps you had better cut off a little more while you are about it, and be satisfied." "I do not know but I had. I think they are still very long," replied the lady; and she cut off a second piece, saying, "There, I think that will do."

"Well, my friend," said the Doctor, "I must now tell you I have something against you." "Have you, Sir," she exclaimed: "what is it?"

"I think your tongue is rather too long; and you had better let me cut off a piece of it!"

We all, sometimes, have long tongues. In fact, it might be a great advantage to us if we could, to some extent silence ourselves. Many Christians do not take to heart the passage in James 3 that we started with today. The passage in James is a little longer than the one verse quoted. The section that concerns this topic is covered in verses 5-8 of chapter 3. These are stern warnings for us today. May the Lord lead us to use this powerful part of the body in a manner that is pleasing to Him.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." Abraham Lincoln

Soli Deo Gloria,