“So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 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.” – James 3:6
Do you remember the old saying “sticks and stones may brake my bones, but words will never hurt me”? I always thought this was the funniest saying! Because words, in their simplest form, can brake the strongest of bonds.
As days are going by and more and more corruption is happening in our world, I keep being reminded of the power of the tongue. With words we curse, with words we manipulate, with words we control and tear down. But most importantly with words we are led toward or away from salvation and our God.
I think instead of trying to speak with our mouths, the things to either build ourselves up or tear others down, we need to focus more on speaking truth. This life is short and as Ecclesiastes tells us – ALL IS VANITY. We cannot take anything here with us – not even our pride, so why do we make it our priority to strive for selfishness, even if that means leaving a path of destruction in our wake?
It is hard not to turn on the news and see evidences of this everywhere. Lying, deceit, selfishness, pride, etc. I look at Planned Parenthood and their manipulation for money and profit, all at the expense of human life. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions they use words to manipulate people into thinking they are doing nothing wrong. Or, look at our presidential candidates – I am disturbed by the lack of humility and truthfulness that they possess. The commercials, the tv shows, billboards, etc. all words that are being used to manipulate and control, tear down and steer away from God.
Even in our Christian fellowships we use words to manipulate and tear down. You would think that being fellow heirs of the glory of our Lord would bond us all in a way that we would do what Paul calls for and bear one another’s burdens. But instead, we often just cause more burden. There has been an ever present growing feeling of elitism that is causing our fellowships to be less than what they are called to be. Instead of coming to each other in love or putting others first, we are quick judge and quick to seek self.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give GRACE to those who hear.”
The key word here is GRACE. We have lost the ability to have grace or impart grace. We put our own selfish desires and emotions ahead of imparting grace to the hearer. Regardless of the wrong or sin, we should always be first to impart grace. We must think of the grace that has been imparted to us through Jesus Christ and strive to always do the same.
Yes we will not be great at this always. We become selfish and defensive and in some cases self righteous. But if we can just pause and think of our words and how we are using them or how they will either build up or tear down then maybe we can make it gracious more often than not. Maybe we can start to bring back the true art of godly fellowship!
Along with this, we need to guard ourselves against this ever growing deceitful world and not let it tear us down and manipulate us. Don’t let what this world says remove who we are in Christ and make us a part of what we are not. Regardless if this world thinks that the art of graceful speaking and selflessness is “old-fashioned” it is what God calls for. It is what will always be needed. So shield yourselves from that which the world calls “modern” politically correct interactions and be a shinning example of what God’s true fellowship looks like.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph. 6:12
Satan is ever moving to manipulate and destroy true fellowship, family and our relationship with God. This fight is not merely with those who believe and don’t believe, but a fight with Satan over influences for God. If we remove God’s influence in everything – God will soon be in nothing – not even the places where you ultimately go to find Him – like the church.
So fight to stay away from this world and it’s evil manipulations. Don’t let it change the way God has meant our tongues and our words to be used: edification, exhortation, admonition and grace! These are what should drip from every word that proceeds from our mouths.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Eph. 5:6
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” 1 Peter 1:13-15
“For,’ THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.'” 1 Peter 3:10-12