“A fool expresses all his emotions, but a wise person controls them.” Proverbs 29:11 (GW)
“If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:15 (NIV)
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
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OKAY, I’LL GO FIRST.
Today, I will admit that I am not at the point where every comment I make is God-honoring.
That includes sarcastic asides, judgmental comments, unnecessary silliness, and —sometimes — just plain stupid.
The Bible says, “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way” (James 3:2 NLT).
So, I am admitting that I have a control problem. I cannot control my tongue.
I try to. I pray about it. I’ve been convicted enough times. Well, apparently not enough times for me, but certainly I’ve been convicted enough times for anyone else, right?
I struggle with this sin.
HOW OFTEN DO I leave a social occasion, whether a church service or Bible study, whether a family gathering or neighborhood outing, or even a quiet evening at home with my wife when I don’t regret something I said.
No day is complete without my saying something I wish I hadn’t said.
Does that happen to you, too? Maybe I’m alone here, but I don’t think so. There are too many reminders in the Bible that God takes our speech seriously, and He wants us to, as well.
What do you make of Jesus’ comment that God will hold us accountable for our speech?
Check this out: “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak” [emphasis mine] (Matthew 12:36 CSB).
Don’t miss this one. Jesus Christ, the Second Person in the Trinity, told us that when we die, we will be held to account for every harmful, stupid, judgmental, or silly thing we have ever uttered!
HOW CAN WE EVER MANAGE?
Fortunately, we don’t have to because that same Jesus Christ bore our sins on the cross.
The Bible tells us that God poured out our sin on His Son (see 2 Corinthians 5:21) to pay our debt so that now — pay attention, please! — “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 ESV).
That means when we are called to account, our Savior will stamp “Debt Paid” across our name, and we will be welcomed into Paradise.
The apostle Paul was clear in Romans 5 and 6 that just because God’s grace — His free gift of salvation — has been granted to those of us who believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, does not give us license to continue to sin.
Instead, we are called to live righteous lives that reflect His glory. We are to be His witnesses.
Want proof? Please take a moment and just look up in your Bible these three comments from Jesus — not comments from an apostle or an esteemed teacher or a famous author, but from the Master, Himself — that speak of our witness and obedience to Him: Luke 6:46, John 15:14, Matt. 5:16. Seriously, look them up now.
They should convict everyone of us to be mindful of every action, word, and thought we have.
FRIENDS, OUR WITNESS IS TARNISHED by our course talk, gossip, judgments, and downright careless remarks.
What must break God’s heart is the circular firing squad within the Christian community.
Can you even read an account — either from a church-based organization or the secular press — where various factions aren’t complaining about the lack of Christian witness of someone else within the body of Christ?
That’s just the mild stuff. The really heartbreaking reality is that whole denominations have split and are splitting over doctrinal differences and interpretations of God’s Holy Word. Many within the church are leaving the Bible’s timeless truths to find something more “relevant” to modern culture, leaving a fractured testimony in their wake.
WHAT MUST THE SECULAR WORLD — the world of doubters, self-centered, and darkened souls — think when they see how we act.
Okay, for those of you who didn’t look up those three verses from Jesus’ lips, here are some key words: “Why do you call me Lord,” “You are my friends,” and “Let your light shine.”
Now, look them up. Read them. Pray over them. Ask God to place them in your heart every day.
Ask Him to help you live them out as you live out the Gospel of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
I know I am going to try.
I’m tired of adding misery and conflict to a world that has too much of it, already. I’m tired of boarding that ship to Tarshish when I’m supposed to be riding a donkey to Nineveh.
I’m signing on to God’s great mission field.
I am going to pray daily that God will continue to do the good work in me (see Philippians 1:6) that He has purposed (see Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 13:21).
Then, I am going to watch my tongue.
How about you? Want to join me?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, our Heavenly Father, the Creator and Judge of the Universe, we praise Your holy name; we ask forgiveness for our self-centeredness that leads to pride, to foolish talk, to broken witness. Lord, lead us to guard our tongues from slander, gossip, sarcasm and all manner of speech that does not honor our Savior. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
- Do you ever find yourself making comments that you wish you hadn’t made? Were they gossipy, slanderous, judgmental, or even just silly or useless or even downright stupid? Where does that come from? Can you pray that God will take away your words that do not honor Him?
- Do you cringe to see how other Christians treat other members within the body of Christ? Is their behavior God-honoring? What do you think the secular world thinks when it sees the critical way we see one another within the church? Can you pray that God will take away the division and pettiness that do not honor Him?
- Do you see how your sinful pride makes you prone to saying hurtful things to others or becoming petulant? Can you pray that God will take away the prideful arrogance that causes you to dishonor Him with your words?