“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” (Jam. 1:26).
Modern man is prone to dismiss impure, improper and inconsiderate speech as a trivial matter. However, Jesus warned, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Mat. 12:36). James adds, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (Jam. 3:6). The Word of God clearly does not treat lightly the misuse of the tongue nor does it seek to minimize the consequences of such misuse. Let us note some of the kinds of tongue trouble we are to avoid.
We are to avoid having a malicious tongue. Some use their tongue to tear others to pieces with their harsh words or their cutting, judgmental or sarcastic remarks. These people develop an appetite for bad news. They feast on gossip, slander, rumor and evil tales. The Bible teaches, “be ye kind one to another” (Eph. 4:32). The malicious tongue is far from being kind.
The deceitful tongue is also to he avoided. “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape” (Pro. 19:5). Today, we hear many speaking laughingly of “small fibs,” “little white lies” and “tiny deceptions,” as though they were nothing at all to be concerned about. God, however, does not take the matter lightly. He warns, “all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8).
We live today in an age when profanity is a part of everyday life. Modern speech is often coarse, lewd and rude. It has, it seems become fashionable to have a foul mouth! Far too many programs on television and far too many movies seem to feature foul mouthed individuals who are trying to outdo one another with the filth that spews forth. The Bible teaches, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exo. 20:7). Using God’s name thoughtlessly, sacrilegiously, or flippantly is no small thing! “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Mat. 12:37).
James calls the tongue an “unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (Jam. 3:8). In the heat of the moment we all say things that we later regret. Words that are spoken in haste can, and often do cause great damage. Pythagoras said, “A wound from the tongue is worse that a wound from the sword. The latter affects only the body; the former the spirit.”
Have you been guilty of these “sins of the tongue”?