When I was growing up, I experienced both the receiving and giving of words that affected, not only my life, but the lives of others. There were times when I would say things that would have an adverse affect upon the recipient. There were also times when I would share words of encouragement to the listener. James shared that “blessing and cursing” should not proceed out of the same mouth any more than “sweet and bitter” water should come out of the same fountain. (James 3:10,11) Whenever I was on the receiving end of verbal abuse or ridicule, I would display a wounded look that was noticeable to everyone. My parents, seeing my mental suffering, would utter one of the great fictional phrases of all time: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” I would think that was easy for them to say; they weren’t the target of the words. When I was on the giving end of hurtful words, I would think nothing of the ramifications they were having on the person I was targeting. Now I wish I could say that as I matured I learned to exhibit the Biblical principle of “do unto others as you would want others to do unto you,” (Matt 7:12, Luke 6:31) but it seemed that as I got older, I just turned to different tactics. Instead of direct words of hurt, I would use things like gossip, rumor reporting, interpretive observation, and exaggerated facts. Why is it that when we are inconsistent in our Christian behavior, we have a tendency to talk about others? Maybe it makes us feel we are not so flawed after all.
One would think as we matured that Paul’s statement of “…when I became a man, I put away childish things…” (I Cor. 13:11) would be what we all strive for, yet today many verbal releases continue to oppose Biblical standards. James writes in his epistle about the difficulty in controlling the tongue. (James 3:1-14) Today we hear the phase, “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything.” Christians break out in a chorus of AMEN, but within hours, a carnal slip is oozing out of our mouths.
I believe the reason negative words are expressed is because a disharmony exists between our spirit and our soul. Whenever we fail to express Kingdom language, we are displaying that we have not been in fellowship with our King. When my parents saw a change in my attitude and heard words come from my mouth that should not come out of a Christian, they knew I had been hanging around the wrong people. It is the same today. People can tell by your words if you have been keeping company with Jesus or have been wrapped up in the things of the world. Whenever the latter is evidenced, the tongue seems to ventilate frustration by launching out in exposing the faults of others. Instead of expressing our frustration, let us fall to our knees and say as David did, “Let the words of my mouth…be acceptable in Thy sight…” (Ps. 19:14)
Maybe we can’t “tame” our tongue, but we can certainly feed what influences our words (by feeding the spirit more than the soul.) Then at least the majority of what comes out of our mouth will be edifying, not only to the hearer, but to us as well.
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