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Taming The Tongue - Part 1

Taming The Tongue - Part 1
Fire starter

Indeed, we put bits in horses mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.  See how great a forest a little fire kindles! James 3:3-5 (NKJV)

There are many people who choose not to attempt control their tongue and as such, whatever comes to mind flows right out of their mouth.  For other people, it is their emotions dictating their words - if they are angry, then they will speak forth angry things; if they are happy, they will say happy things. 

And so James makes a good point about how our tongues can start a great fire of trouble and controversy when they are used to speak things that should never have come forth.   He goes on to say in verse 6, The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature.  We can clearly see this truth when people use their tongue for evil and choose to gossip.

A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. Proverbs 11:13 (NKJV)

When we choose to gossip, we can end up saying hurtful, derogatory, divisive and hateful things.  We can slander, lie, embellish and make false accusations and even use profanity.  And we can be one of those people who like to tell stories about other people - a talebearer is what the Bible calls them.  And just as in the case of a small spark in a larger forest starting a big fire, it is the same way when we start a conversation with something that should not have been said - it only takes a spark or two - those beginning words in a conversation, and then it grows rapidly and is soon out of control.

The Great Chicago fire of 1871 was allegedly sparked by a lantern in a barn - it spread quickly and consumed 17,500 buildings, killing over 300 people and leaving over a 125,000 homeless.  Gossip is even more deadly.  And as long as it has something fueling it - people continuing to talk - it will burn forever. When we choose to shut up and quit talking about a situation, another person, or some rumor we heard, then the rumor will stop spreading and so will the controversy caused by it.

Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. Proverbs 26:20 (NKJV)

If we have a heart to foster peace then we will stop participating in gossip - if we love disunity, and distrust, and sin then we will continue to talk when we should be silent on a subject - the power is ours and we will reap what we sow.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

Truth be told, we can shout from the top of the Empire State building, "I am a Christian and I love Jesus," but then choose to talk about things we shouldn't be talking about and the results can be devastating to our Christian witness; and to others wanting to know Christ.  Gossip can divide and bring down healthy growing churches really fast.

Q:    What can we do to help curb unedifying conversation that comes our way?

Here are a couple of things you can implement into your conversation to help take the wood out of the fire, so to speak.

1.    One of the best ways to end a rumor is to ask if you may quote the individual passing it along. If the person says no, it's possible that the rumor is just idle talk.

2.    When spreading news about others, ask yourself if you would want someone to quote you. A negative answer is a good sign you should keep your lips sealed on the matter.

Hey Christian, I want to encourage you to think about what you speak about.  Be careful to stop what you hear and choose wisely before passing anything on.  If what you are hearing is simply a complaint about someone else, encourage the one speaking to talk directly to the one who they are upset with.  Stay out of the middle unless you are passing on wise counsel, and encouragement. 

STUDY QUESTION: What can we learn from the Proverbs contained within this devotional with regard to gossip?

PERSONAL INVENTORY: Are you willing to stop all gossip conversations that make their way to you, and to be committed to not participating in them?

APPLICATION: Seek the Lord for wisdom and discernment at the beginning of each day.  Confront all non-edifying conversations head-on and stop them immediately.  Share with the one sharing with you about what God wants regarding these types of conversations.  Share the Matthew 18:15-20 principle.

Father, thank You for Your Word and for clear directions to handle any potential conversation that we may be tempted with.  Help me today by filling me with Your Holy Spirit and by giving me great wisdom and discernment.  In Jesus' precious name, amen...

Be Blessed, Pastor Scott

Copyright ©2017 by Pastor Scott Wright.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000