Much can be said of a person's character by the way they use their tongue. Seneca once said, "Speech is the index of the mind." Jesus said that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Mat. 12:34) According to Proverbs 18:21 , "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." In James 3:6, the Bible says that the tongue is "a fire, a world of iniquity", and James 3:8 calls the tongue a "deadly poison."
As a fool would carelessly play and prank with a loaded gun, so many Christians today do likewise with their deadly tongue. If only we could fully realize the untold damage that we are doing to the body of Christ! If only we could see the full effect of the words we use!
Perhaps a closer look into the Bible can help. God made man, and God made man's tongue, so surely God should be qualified to comment on the subject. Surely God should have some good counsel concerning the use and misuse of the human tongue. Let us consider some sins of the tongue as we find them revealed in God's word.
The Lying Tongue
Proverbs 25:18 says, "A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow." So a lying tongue is a misuse of a deadly weapon. It can be used to harm others near at hand (a maul), a few feet away (a sword), or a great distance away (an arrow). Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44 ), and God said that he hates a lying tongue (Pro. 6:17 ). All liars will have their part in the lake of fire, according to Revelation 21:8.
The Flattering Tongue
Flattery is also a sin of the tongue. The Bible speaks of flattery as a characteristic of the wicked, not the righteous: "For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue." (Psalm 5:9) Imagine the improvements which could be made in our nation if voters elected leaders on the basis of the RECORD rather than on the basis of the flattering speeches! Flattery is just a form of lying, and it has no place in the life of a Christian.
The Proud Tongue
The Bible also speaks of the proud tongue. Psalm 12:3-4 says, "The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?" The most annoying Christians in the world are those with proud tongues because a proud tongue usually comes with two closed ears! Proud- tongued Christians are generally so full of themselves that they learn very little from anyone else. A proud-tongued Christian will talk much of his knowledge and service, but very little about the Lord.
In a church, a proud-tongued Christian will make all sorts of suggestions about how the church should function, yet his suggestions, if received, will place burdens on everyone but himself. A proud- tongued Christian is hard to teach or reason with because he thinks he knows everything.
Friend, God hates a proud tongue. Allow the Holy Spirit to use your tongue in the way of humility and kindness because pride will only quench God's Spirit and damage your testimony.
The Overused Tongue
Some people sin by simply overusing their tongue. Ecclesiastes 5:3 says that "a fool's voice is known by multitude of words." People think they appear smart by much talking, but the Bible states just the opposite. Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few." God doesn't like a blabber mouth. You say, "Well, that's just the way I am!" Then REPENT! Confess your sin and repent. Stop justifying your wickedness and ask God to help you repent.
The Swift Tongue
Some people are guilty of speaking too swiftly when they really need to wait before saying anything. God's word says the following in Proverbs 18:13: "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." How many times have you had to "eat" your words because you spoke too swiftly? James 1:19 warns us to be swift to HEAR and SLOW to speak. Why do you suppose God gave us two ears but only one mouth?
The Backbiting Tongue
Proverbs 25:23 and Romans 1:30 make mention of a backbiting tongue. A backbiter is someone who uses their tongue against you when you aren't present, yet they will not face you with their charges when you are present. This is a cowardly backbiter who would rather stir up problems than solve problems.
A backbiter would much rather talk ABOUT the preacher than talk TO the preacher. A backbiter would much rather talk ABOUT some weak Christian in the church than offer some words of encouragement TO them. A backbiter is of no use to anyone, and no one has ever been strengthened or edified through backbiting. Beware of the backbiters, especially the ones who sow discord among brethren (Pro. 6:19 )!
The Talebearing Tongue
Proverbs 18:8 says, "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." Leviticus 19:16 says, "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people. . ." Every Christian has the duty to deny his own desires and seek to edify other Christians (Rom. 14:19 ; Philip. 2:3). Talebearing runs wholly contrary to Christian edification. Talebearing (carrying and telling tales) spreads all sorts of hurtful information around, and Satan uses such information to hinder and tear down God's work. A victim of talebearing, according to Proverbs, is a "wounded" person. God forbid that a Christian should wound another Christian, but it does happen all the time! Some Christians live as though they think God has "called" them to bear tales on other Christians. Many "Christian" newsletters are dedicated to informing the body of Christ on the latest news about someone's ministry or personal life. There are many nice words and phrases used to justify such conduct, but the Bible word is TALEBEARING.
The Cursing Tongue
Some people, Christians included, have a nasty habit of using their tongue for cursing. Romans 3:13-14 says, "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." This passage deals strictly with unsaved people and their ungodly ways, yet there are a great many professing Christians who curse regularly. Friend, why would you want to identify yourself with someone whom God describes as being DEAD, DECEITFUL, and POISON?
"As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him. As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones."(Psalm 109:17-18) Many people curse because their life is miserable. They are unhappy so they make it known with their degenerate speech. This text says that God keeps them unhappy BECAUSE of their speech! God curses those who curse! Christian, don't expect God's blessings when your mouth is filled with cursing.
The Piercing Tongue
Another sinful tongue is the piercing tongue. Proverbs 12:18 speaks of this tongue by saying, "There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health." Some people have a sharp piercing tongue which Satan uses to offend and insult others. The Bible commands Christians to have their speech dominated by GRACE (Col. 4:6), yet most churches have a few people who use their tongue like a sword to pierce their brethren in Christ.
It was Teddy Roosevelt who said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," but the truth is that if you speak softly you won't need a big stick! Titus 2:8 commands us to use sound speech which cannot be condemned. Friend, do you use graceful speech which cannot be evil spoken of, or do you possess a piercing tongue? Every Christian's prayer should be, "Lord, make my words gracious and tender, for tomorrow I may have to eat them."
The Silent Tongue
A silent tongue is also a sinful tongue because we have been commanded to speak up and witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem , and in all Judaea , and in Samaria , and unto the uttermost part of the earth." We, as Christians, have an obligation to tell others about the saving grace of Jesus. To be silent about Christ is to sin against Christ. Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38 ) Christian friend, if you do not want to be ashamed of yourself when the Lord returns, then don't be ashamed of Jesus today. Pray for opportunities to speak up for your Saviour. Don't be found guilty of having a silent tongue.
"For in many things we offend all.
If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man,
and able also to bridle the whole body."
Copyright © 2001 James L. Melton