This is a tough topic. I want to tell you a story. Before I do, though, I want to say something from my heart.
The subject of controlling the tongue is difficult for me. My passions run very deep. When I experience a thing, I tend to experience it all the way down to my toes, and deep in my soul. I am only just now learning the discipline of the tongue. I am not like Christ in this regard. I am swift to speak, and slow to listen. So, my writing about this topic is from fresh experience. I am guilty of the very thing that I despise about religious people. Religious people lack self-control. They do not allow God guide their tongue in love and wisdom, instead of in haste, which leads to harm. I cannot throw stones when I am as guilty as those who do not belong to God. If I am to grow to be like Christ, I must submit my passions and my tongue to His lordship. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that a person can overcome the evil the tongue can generate. If we are to be like Christ, and want to tell others we are the Children of God, then we must be willing to submit even our favorite sin to God. This i snot something we can do for ourselves.
For all those whose bodies lay on the ground in my quest for self righteousness, please forgive me for being a fool. God is not interested in my self-righteousness. He is interested in me having His righteousness.
“A tale bearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” Proverbs 11:13
I know a man who used to live one county away from where I live. He had a walk with the Lord, but life got in the way, and he didn’t submit to the will of God, and he did things his own way. The end result is, he sinned against his own family. He knew after the fact that he had sinned. He called it sin. He confessed this sin. He grieved for his sin.
The people who he knew, who were sincere in their faith, who went to church, who prayed, who tithed, who spoke often of the love of God, and His grace, who were worship leaders and preachers and deacons, these people shunned him, and hated him because they genuinely loved his family, and hated what he had done. He wanted to talk to someone, anyone, about this, and how to return to God, to seek forgiveness, to know the joy of fellowship. He couldn’t find any one in his town who would help him, and counsel him, and lead him back to the grace of God. He became the target of their hate, instead. This didn’t need to happen. But it happened because one of the fellowship could not wait to spread this juicy bit of gossip to the other believers, who also loved this man’s family.
In their fervor to be supportive of this man’s family, the spoke curses on this man, they openly held him in contempt. They advised his wife to abandon him. The pronounced he was not worthy of their fellowship.
Eventually, because of the loose tongues of two of his wife’s relatives, the entire community had heard about it. The story was repeated with all the vileness of the sin glorified, and with all the righteousness as if they were God.
This man felt alone and hopeless, by this time. No one would befriend him. He found a couple of Christian men he thought he could befriend, but eventually, the wagging tongues of the “faithful” reached these men’s ears, and they decided it would be best to not be friends after all.
By this time, he felt that, if so many Christians were condemning him, then so must God be condemning him. he wondered how he will ever return to God, if he is being so rejected by people who represent Him.
His hopes were raised, one day, when he found someone who would actually pray with him. He finally had made a friend. But before two days had passed, this new friend had his ears bent by one of the Christians who hated him. That new friend told him that he was no longer welcome to come see him.
Rejected again by Christians, he believed he was beyond redemption. He took up drinking with a commitment. He knew this, too, was wrong, but he felt that he was too far gone from God to be redeemed. After all, most of the Christians he knew were telling him that.
He gave up. He withdrew his heart completely. People would not hire him anymore, so he kept having to go from job to job. He would be at a job for a while, but, eventually, his employer heard about what a terrible man he was, and found a way to let him go. By this time, the sin he had committed had been embellished. Over time, it took on the landscape of more than what had actually happened. He heard many terrible things that were being said about him. The hate the Christians showed him merely amplified with every retelling of this sin, that, by this time, had happened Severn years ago. It grew like a cancer.
Every now and then, he would try to talk to these believers about what to do to return. Their contempt had grown to the point that they told him he would be better off dead. these people kept trying to break up the marriage. They kept telling him he needs to get out-of-town, and never return. They were speaking death into his life, and into his marriage. It got so that, they damage they were doing was far worse than the damage he had done in the first place. These people wouldn’t leave his wife alone about it, and continuously discouraged her attempts to heal her home. They almost caved in to the wagging tongues of these people, but somehow, they continued to work through all the noise and despair these people were encouraging in his wife.
Today, they are healed, and healing. But it was not because of any effort of the believers who kept wagging their tongues, keeping the pain stirred up. The were actually not happy that she had the strength and courage to work at this relationship with him. All they wanted was vengeance. All they wanted was their sense of justice. And they wouldn’t let up on her, even though healing had begun in her home.
I got to watch all this, and I had several long talks with this man. He was in a very dark place. His wife was torn between taking the advice of this fellowship of Christians, or standing her ground and continue to fight for a promise she believed in . The spoke death to her, but her faith in God spoke life. She persevered through all the darkness and difficulty, and saw God do a wondrous work in this man’s life. Yes they still spoke death. He drew near to the Lord, and let the Lord deal with him and his sin. Yet they spoke death. They preached about a grace they did not practice. they spoke about a love they refused to show. They spoke about forgiveness, but didn’t forgive what they had already condemned.
Today, this man is becoming a powerful Christian. he has given his heart, Mind, Soul, Strength to the Living God. he often asks me what it will take before these other believers will stop gossiping about him, and start rejoicing that he is genuinely saved, and that God is working a wonder in his life.
I told him I had no idea. It is hard to tell with people who love to hate, and love to spread death with their mouths. I told him that, all he could do was keep obeying God, and stop worrying about all these well-intentioned dragons. This is hard. I even wanted to hate these people, but I don’t. I love them. I could see that this man loved them too, with a deep abiding love. Only God could do this to a man like him.
I felt a searing pain in my own heart. How many times has my tongue led me to cause harm? How often have I been so self-righteous that all I could speak is distension and hate? I cannot throw stones at those Christians who continuously showed such a lack of understanding of the will of God. How often had I been so in love with my opinion that I didn’t take the time to see what God and His word had to say about it? When did I forget that, for the grace of God, there go I. I get religious just like everyone else, on occasion. It is only when I am sensitive to the will and voice of God, that I remember that He showed me love and mercy and grace when I least deserved it. I could easily plead that “That is just how I am!”. But that is no excuse to the Living God. We are born with a personality and a character. Our character reflects who we live for. Our character is expressed through our personality. When the Holy Spirit comes in to you, He will replace your Character with God’s, as you submit to Him. We are created in His image (We look like him) and in His likeness (We were supposed to act like him). When sin became our inheritance, we lost God’s character and traded it for a cheap imitation. When we believed in Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord, then the Spirit of God moved in to make us in the likeness of Jesus, as we allow him to. You will receive the Character of God, expressed in your unique personality. And your personality becomes under control by the discipline of the Spirit of God.
The tongue has the power to heal, and the power to destroy. The way it is used reveals who our master really is. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Christ gives us life. love, mercy and joy. Those who have been touched by this love do not see the importance of gossip. They only desire to be like their Lord, Jesus Christ.
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 KJV