“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalms 19:14
I feel this devotional may create some unease or even some apprehension. Even so, I think it is important we don’t use being a Christian or Christianity as justification for harmful, or as I described them in Sunday’s message, life taking words. Let me explain. History is replete with examples of people who caused great harm through their words under the guise of religion.
David Koresh was the American leader of the Branch Davidians religious sect, believing himself to be its final prophet. Revelations of wrongdoing provoked the historic 1993 raid on the center by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The subsequent siege by the FBI ended with the burning of the center, where Koresh and 75 others were found dead after the fire.
Now I grant you that this is an extreme group and what they do under the guise of following God is an extreme example. We don’t have to go to that extreme to be judgmental and even harmful in what we say as Christians. But each of us as followers of Jesus have to be careful that we do not harm others with our words because we are Christians.
Let’s face it, there are times we open our mouths and wish we hadn’t. Often we are trying to stay morally anchored but can’t resist the urge to get on our soapbox. Or the countless other incidents when Christians open their mouths because we believe we may be right, although we are not always right, doesn’t mean it needs to be said or we are the right person to make a moral judgment call.
You are talking to a friend before church and you point out that somebody you both know is too liberal for your taste. The person who they are speaking about may never hear what is said, or it may get back to them at some point. Either way, the tongue in this case is not being used as God intends it to be used. There are many other examples of things Christians say in homes, coffee shops and outdoor settings across the country and world. After all we are Christians and we are here to help. And we are armed with the gospel and biblical truth. That does not mean we don’t need to have a firewall on our tongue to stop us from using words that create death in others.
Scripture is pretty straightforward on this subject. Ephesians 4:29-31 speaks to this: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up.”
I know how easy it is to let loose with a crushing verbal blow. I know just what words and phrases can cut to the quick; if most of us are honest, we probably use them with alarming regularity. But now I am trying to start small and using my words for the positive, not the negative. My witty yet biting banter, or gossip, or harsh words did nothing for God or the Gospel when I was hurting people rather than helping them to find healing in Christ Jesus. I cannot, for the life of me, understand what makes us say some of the hurtful things we say. We are not called by the living God to be hurtful, but to reflect his grace and love.
One more thing to think about. It seems to be all the more prevalent now that we do not need a face-to-face with the person to say harmful things or to get on our soapbox. Now we can write them online, post them to our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and stream them on comments sections as if they are not directed at another person, and therefore, not really hurtful. Well, they are. Not only are they directly painful, but they are painful to read even when they are not directed at us.
It is quite a challenge to tame the tongue as James 3 indicates. Yet, as Christians, we need to watch what we say so Jesus will be glorified through our lives. Matthew 15: 10-11 says, “Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
1. Imagine if we could erase the reputation of Christian soapboxes and become known for our love and co-work with Christ’s redemption in His world. How can our words help that happen?
2. How different would your life be if you clothed yourself in love rather than in anger or being holier than thou?
3. Set aside some prayerful moments to ask the Lord to search your heart, and help you in the areas of the tongue.
4. Read Romans 12: 17-18. How does this apply to the words we speak?