Most people are familiar with this picture in some form or another
In keeping with yesterday’s topic of Word Power I wanted to focus on the last two because those are the two that directly relate to words. I think it’s time that everyone including myself practice better mouth management. It has already been established that words are powerful and that life and death are found in words (Proverbs 18:21). Then as a Christian I should be speaking life and not death, good and not evil, truth and not lies at all times. At all times? At all times. This is not an option for Christians this is a command.
Ephesians 4:29&31 “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” 31. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander as well as all types of evil behavior.”
What is slander? Any false or defamatory words spoken about a person.
It’s interesting to note that slander does not have to be false in order for it to be defamatory. Defamatory meaning damaging the reputation, character or good name of someone. That’s where harsh words come in. You may in fact be telling the truth about someone but because you use harsh words it is obvious that your motive behind “speaking the truth” is for the person who is the subject of the conversation to be thought less of by those hearing the conversation. This is a sin.
James 4:11-12 “Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?”
When we start criticizing and judging others we are in fact playing God. That is what these two verses in James 4 tells us. Our job is to obey the law not to figure out if it applies to us or not. God, and God alone is the final and ultimate judge.
People who say things like “Only God can judge me” will love that last statement above but the truth is “Only God can judge me” is a lie people tell themselves so that they don’t feel guilty about living lawless. There is such thing as righteous judgement but unfortunately many Christians do not practice that. Matthew 7:1-5 tells us to first get ourselves together before we go trying to “correct” or help out a brother or sister. If we don’t we must be mindful that “You will be treated as you treat others. The same standard you use in judging is the same standard by which you will be judged” (Matthew 7:2).
We are instructed by Jesus “not to judge according to appearance but to look beneath the surface so we can judge correctly.” (John 7:24). The problem with many Christians today is that we judge after human standards (John 8:15) and not godly standards. And it needs to stop.
Why is it so easy to fall prey to speaking ill of others? One reason is because our flesh loves it. I mean it really enjoys it. Proverbs 26:22 says that “Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.” (NLT). The flesh has a “an appetite for perverse information” (Pastor Chip Ingram). Another reason is simply because of projection. We believe the problem is with other people when really the problem is us. Possible reasons*(Reasons taken from Pastor Chip Ingram) include:
– shifting and casting the blame on others to avoid responsibility
-justifying our own behavior
-fear of rejection so we go on the offensive
-a way to mask our own insecurity
– a way to get others to take my side
It is important that we don’t speak speak negatively about others and it is equally as important that we don’t condone the negative speaking of others. Hear no Evil. This takes courage. We have to be willing to tell someone who is speaking negatively about another person to stop. The more we do this the less people will come to us with rumors and gossip. Be an example. Be a leader.
Speaking evil is not just limited to talking negatively about someone. Evil speaking includes all words that lack substance, value, basis or heartfelt meaning and includes murmuring and complaining. One word that sums that up is IDLE. The Bible tells us in Matthew 12:36 that “you must give an account on judgement day for every idle word you speak.” Every idle word. Every foul, abusive, curse, slanderous, harsh word. Every word that lacked substance, value, basis or meaning. Every murmur. Every complaint. Every forced and feigned “I Love You” that we didn’t mean. Every “I hate you”. Every “go to hell”. We will have to give an account for them.
Still we have this hope 1 Corinthians 11:31 “But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.” All it takes is for us examining ourselves and our own ways.
We must all choose our words carefully.
Ponder the immediate and distant consequences of your speech.
Practice talking less –
Proverbs 17:28 “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”
Proverbs 10:19 “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
Words are too powerful to be wasted. With the idle words we waste we could be moving mountains and speaking the impossible into existence (Mark 11:23).
Take the challenge with me.
Speak No Evil. Hear No Evil.