By Pat Kilpatrick
Jack Wilhelm told a story about the well-meaning but nosy and talkative sister who was always on the phone talking to everybody about everybody. One day she decided to ask the elders what she might do to be a greater help to the church. One brave elder replied that she might consider disconnecting her telephone. We all know the dangers of the tongue. In our study of James’ epistle, we saw that the tongue was “fire, a world of iniquity”, and that it “defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James 3:6). We also learned that it was an “unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). James warns “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain” (James 1:26). Jesus said, “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). There are so many sins that we can commit with the tongue; lying, deceit, and flattery (Proverbs 6:17, Psalms 12:2-3), gossip and slander (Leviticus 19:16, Psalm 101:5), boasting (Romans 1:29-32), filthy talk (Ephesians 4:29, 31; 5:4, Colossians 3:8), division and heresies (Romans 16:17-18), and factions, quarreling, and insolence (I Peter 3:10, Proverbs 16:26-28). That little member inside our mouth can cause so much damage and cause us to lose our soul.
The tongue can be used for good, though. “A Soft answer turneth away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). The tongue can be used for edification (I Corinthians 14, Ephesians 4:29). It can teach and admonish and provoke others to love and good works (Romans 15:14, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24). We speak what is in our hearts (Matthew 12:34). “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things” (Matthew 12:35). For the tongue to do good instead of evil, it takes a heart full of love (I Corinthians 13:4-7).
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.”
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