2008-11-19 - Tongue Twister
James 3:10 "From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way."
Have you ever gossiped? If you haven't, you don't need to read this, or maybe read on anyway so you can help someone who has. This passage in James is not just about gossip, however. This passage has to do with all aspects in which our speech is mischievous. Consider with me the absurdity that with the same mouth someone will pray to God, sing His praise, curse someone out, and curse God Himself or blaspheme His name. The same tongue, the same mouth, does all these things. It is ridiculous that those who use their tongues in prayer and praise should also use them in cursing and slandering. Let us consider at least one thing, when we beat down another person with our words: That person we have smeared is created in the image of God. He/she has worth, dignity, and honor - because they are an image bearer of the Living God (Genesis 1:26). It is most shameful that we insult those who carry in their very person the image of God. To slur or smear, vilify, disparage, and defame another person is the least compliment you can pay to yourself in the eyes of others. We ought not to conduct ourselves in such contemptible ways.
You may have heard of the story of the preacher who was involved in a scandal in his church. There was a rumor going around the church that his wife had attended a meeting of group he did not approve, that he had gone to the meeting, dragged her out of the meeting by the hair, and taken her home and beat her. He was forced to explain to his congregation that he had not dragged his wife from any meeting by the hair, and that he had never beaten her. He was sure his wife had, in fact, never even attended the meeting - because he was not married, and had never even had a wife before. We laugh at the story, but if we pause for a moment and reflect - we all know that this is exactly the kind of thing that spirals out of control with gossip. We must guard our tongues. A half-truth is not a half-truth. It is a lie. When we speak of others let our speech be generous, seeking to build the other up, hide faults when we are able, and always giving the benefit of the doubt to others, before we jump to conclusions and share those thoughts with others.
We must be gracious to others, and avoid falling into gossip. But to do this, we must have assistance from the Lord. We must have His help. We are told in these verses, James 3:1-10, that it is not impossible for us to guard our tongue. He does say, in Verse 8, that no one can tame the tongue, and by this, we are to understand that there will always be shortcomings in our attempts to guard our speech. But the encouragement is that we can make progress in this thing that is very difficult. It requires watchfulness and prayer to keep our speech in order. If you carry in your heart true faith, it will not tolerate contradictions. How many sins would it prevent, if we consistently lived up to our faith in the use of our mouth, and the bridling of our tongue?
Soli Deo Gloria,