Lucia's Blog: THE POWER OF THE TONGUE: LIFE AND DEATH
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

THE POWER OF THE TONGUE: LIFE AND DEATH

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Proverbs 18:21


Our words reflect the degeneration of our culture. Jesus lifts us up out the mud and filth of our sins and the sinful habits that are expressed in our speech. It is no surprise that He has much to say about our words.

I have been reflecting upon Proverbs 18 lately.  Wisdom speaks with a loud voice about the words of our lips. They are the fruit of wisdom, righteousness, and understanding that produce eternal life to the soul.  On the other hand, they can be the fruit of unrighteousness, ruin, pride, contention, lacking in understanding, snare of the soul, and destruction. Indeed, how one uses the tongue will have eternal consequences since it reveals his heart.  Deuteronomy 30:15 calls on man to choose life and good, not death and evil. 

Let's face it, we live in a culture that is desensitized to sin. Our people think that lying, cursing, swearing, and vulgarity are skills, a right. They think it is normal. I am always amazed at how even Christians do not for a minute hesitate to insult one another.  They don't realize that words are powerful and can cause one to sin with the tongue.  Today many take God's name in vain.  This, of course, is one of the many sins of the tongue.  They are not aware that when they use God's name in vain, they are disrespecting and profaning His name, showing a lack of reverence to our God whose name is Holy.  They dare to use His Holy name to curse and slander others or as a form of expressing their feelings (exclamatory speech). Sometimes, they are just expressing anger or careless humor to exalt some and humiliate others. They, of course, don't acknowledge that His name is holy and awesome, (Psalm 111:9).  God will not tolerate anyone who abuses His Holy Name.  He will hold men accountable.  Take heed!

Our culture today has no brakes when it comes to sinful forms of speech and communication: shameful, filthy or obscene speech; foolish talking and jesting and foul gestures of humor.  There is nothing that grieves me more than to hear Christians talk in a shameful manner, uttering words they shouldn't speak at all.  In Ephesians 5:12, Paul exhorts us saying that some things are so shameful that it is inappropriate to speak of them openly.  Our society has become so desensitized that they have forgotten that there are some things that are shameful to speak of in public.  They speak as if they have license to talk about matters of intimacy, forgetting to blush.  They remind me of Israel in the days of Jeremiah when God's people had forgotten how to be ashamed or how to blush, (Jeremiah 6:15). As Christians, our speech must be characterized with grace, edification, praising, softness and tenderness. God has given us tongues to proclaim His message of grace, for blessings and not cursing.   How do you suppose we can reach the lost if we behave like them and talk like them?  We will be stumbling blocks, and we will be held accountable before our Great Judge.

Throughout the Bible, the word tongue is used in both literal and metaphorical ways, especially in the Psalms, the Proverbs, and the New Testament book of James.  James speaks of the tongue as a small part of the body (James 3:5).  Yet, Proverbs 18:21 speaks of it as having the power of life and death. Indeed, this is true whether we're speaking of it as being life or death, whether spiritually, physically or emotionally.  Our tongue generates good and bad actions.  It can either kill or save our souls.  It can be "a fire, defiling the whole body,"  (James 3:6).  Proverbs 15:4 describes the tongue as a tree of life if used righteously or as “perverseness” crushing one's spirit.  Likewise, it can be used to encourage through our spoken words, Proverbs 12:18.  The tongue causes severe wounds that pierce the soul like a sword, causing a profound effect on others.

Our words express what's inside our heart.  Our thoughts become words which then become good or evil deeds.  The tongue has tremendous power over our relationships (husbands, wives, our brethren and our neighbor).  It grieves my heart to see how many lives and relationships have been ruined because of our tongue, or our words, producing fruits of unrighteousness such as: lying, gossip, slander, backbiting, defamation, hypocrisy, cutting words, sarcasm, corrupt speech, profanity, discord, murmuring, cursing, misjudging, talking too much and such.  Therefore, we must be cautious with are words guarding them well that we may preserve our life from all lawlessness or unrighteousness that would cause us to sin against our God.

We must not speak foolishly.  It is foolish to express whatever thought that may come to mind. We must think before we speak.  Words bring death and destruction! Words injure the conscience of others and ours as well.  They cause deep sorrow and wound others with injuries that are beyond repair. Let us take heed!


I.    DEFINITION OF THE TONGUE:

From a medical point of view, the tongue is merely a big piece of mucus membrane enclosing a complex array of muscles and nerves that enable us to chew, taste and swallow. Very helpful, no? The tongue is a remarkable and complex instrument with many functions.  It is our principal source of communication that helps us to articulate different sounds so we can understand each other. Very essential, no? It is used as a sense organ; to chew our food for easy swallowing.  Our tongue has 9000 taste buds which determine different flavors such as bitter, salty and sweet.  But, in spite of how essential and valuable this muscle is in our mouths, the tongue is very volatile. James refers to it as a fire; a restless evil and full of deadly poison, James 3:6, 8. The tongue can be a very lethal, flaming missile which destroys with evil. The Bible speaks of the tongue as something powerful that expresses the intent of the heart.  Someone once said, “Many things are opened by mistake, but none so frequently as the mouth.”  Indeed, this is a truthful statement.  When one loses control of the tongue, the consequences are devastating.  Consider some improper and proper uses of the tongue:


II.   THE TONGUE IS A FIRE:
"For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body."  (James 3:2)
James cautions us, Christians, about stumbling.  In fact, we all stumble in many areas of our lives. The word “stumble” means to trip or fall; it speaks of the misuse of our tongue and the many mistakes we make with it.  James boldly expresses that only those who have reached maturity do not sin with their tongue; that is, he is perfect or complete.  The tongue is the most challenging and hardest part of the body to control.  Why?  Because we're prone to use our tongue improperly, without restraining it in the way we speak; without enough discipline to keep our whole body under control.

In verses 3-4, James goes on to say,
3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.”
Here we have two illustrations:  to control one's tongue is to restrain the whole body.  A horse is much bigger in comparison to the small metal bit put into his mouth and attached bridle.  Yet the bit successfully and efficiently turns and controls the entire body of the horse.  In fact, this principle is also true for ships.  Though they may be very big and moving against strong winds, yet the small rudder is what directs the ship wherever the captain steers it.  So what is the application for us here? Since we can control big animals and large ships using minuscule objects, then we must be able to control ourselves, if we control our tongue properly.  This applies to all mankind.

In James 3:5 we read,
“5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!”
Here we have a warning!  Though the bit and the rudder are small, they can be used to accomplish many great things.  The same principle is true for our tongue.  However, if it is misused, even though it is small, it can cause considerable damage.  Despite how small the tongue is, it is very powerful and controlling.  Our tongue is like dynamite in that it can be used as abundant blessing if we control it properly.  But it can be as dynamite causing devastating destruction if we use it wrongly without controlling it.

Our tongues function the same way as a forest fire that blazes for miles just by a mere spark.  Isn't that amazing!  It is hard to grasp how a single match can have so much power, causing a fire of mass destruction.  So it is with our tongue, our words.  Once the fire is lit, it can go out of control if one does not control it well.  When we speak without restraint, it can cause a blazing fire burning out of control.  Our tongues are like uncontrolled fire that causes us to sin, saying things that do not need to be said.  Such uncontrolled words consume individuals, families and destroy entire congregations. The sad truth is that once we get a forest fire going, we are unable to control it or stop the fire that blazes.  Once we utter evil words or say things about someone we shouldn't, such words are out and can never be taken back.  The damage is done!  Yes, one can apologize and seek forgiveness, but those spoken words can never be erased.

Therefore, let us be extremely careful how we use our tongue!  Let us speak only that which is edifying, that which we ought to speak.  Let us be wise with our tongue, the words that we speak since it is a fire (a world of iniquity) that can defile our entire body, setting it on fire by hell.  That is to say that when our tongue is used improperly (to sin), without control, it is like fire causing significant pain and leaving destruction behind.


II.   THE TONGUE IS UNTAMABLE:
“7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  (James 3:7-8).
James continues addressing the problem of the tongue by saying that no man can tame the tongue. There is a big difference between controlling and taming something.  You can control a wild animal by putting it in a cage, but it is still wild.  To tame the animal, you must train it.  The tongue is no different.  When the animal is controlled and trained, it won't get angry and hurt you.  James points out that man can tame an animal but that no one can tame the tongue.  You see, once one tames an animal, there is no need to keep him chained up.  Our tongue is a muscle that is untamable. Meaning, it cannot control itself. It defies being tamed!  Hard to believe, no? Impossible to domesticate! We need to cage it. And though we might be able to keep our tongues on a leash for safety and restrain it for a long time, we can still slip up and cause significant damage if we're not guarding our tongues well.  Let us then be careful and control our tongues since they are like snakes full of poison waiting to be used.  Please, let us be careful and watch our speech with extreme caution as we would do with a poisonous snake near us!

There are five things we must take into consideration when trying to control and train our tongues:
  1. To whom you speak.
  2. Of whom you speak.
  3. How you speak.
  4. When you speak and finally.
  5. Where you speak.
King David refers to it very bluntly in Psalm 39:1-2
"I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; 'I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.'  I was mute and silent.'"
So, what does it take to tame it? A tight muzzle on our mouth. It requires a lot of determination. Let's not wait too long and be condemned. With God's help, we can have victory over it! But, we must always remember two things:
  1. To think first before our lips start moving; mentally preview our words. 
  2. To talk less; try closing our mouths for a while; make our words few, but rich. 
Let's keep in mind that the tongue of the wise brings healing, Prov. 12:18. He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles, Prov. 21:23.  Therefore, "let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."  (Ephesians 4:29)

James then goes on to say,
“9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”  (James 3:9-10).
To bless God, we must use our tongue well.  When we use our tongue to curse our neighbors and our brethren, wishing evil upon them, we are hypocrites!  How?  Because man is made in God's image, not physically, for God is a spiritual being.  All mankind is created in God's image spiritually and morally (Genesis 1:26-27).  And since we're all made in God's image, when we use our tongues to swear or curse at our neighbor, brother or relative, we are cursing directly at God.  Take heed!

James concludes by saying,
“Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”  (James 3:11-12).
Springs of water are either good or bad.  They cannot be pure one moment and then be polluted the next.  And so is the case of a salt-water fountain in that it cannot produce fresh water.  It is impossible!  The same is also true of our tongue.  It is not normal for a tongue to be divided.  Why? Because a mouth that curses God cannot adequately praise Him since it is tainted.  If I cannot control my mouth during the week, then on the first day of the week (Sunday), it will be impure and worthless for praising God correctly or appropriately.  Therefore, to praise God with a mouth that is filthy and defiled is unholy and hypocritical.  May we all learn to praise our God with holy and righteous mouths full of real wisdom rather than blaspheming His name because of our unrighteous and unholy words.


III.   IMPROPER USES OF THE TONGUE:  

Consider some of the major sins of the tongue:
  • Lying:
To cover someone's sins, avoid hurting someone's feelings, take advantage of others, or to avoid problems.  God hates a lying tongue, Proverbs 6:17.  In Ephesians 4:25 we have been given an exhortation:  
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
So to lie to the IRS, employer, customers, brethren and so on is to deceive God!  
“All liars will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  (Revelation 21:8).

Lying ranks high among the sins of the tongue.  Sadly, many think there is nothing wrong or dangerous about lying since everyone does it, even Christians, as long as they don’t get caught.  But that is not what the Word of God says:
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.”  (Proverbs 12:22).
When one loves to speak the truth, he does not need to lie nor does he need to worry about remembering what he has said.  The truth will always be the same!  So why not always tell the truth even if it chokes you?!

Lying will keep one from entering the gates of heaven if he does not repent.  In Revelation 21:27 we have a serious and alarming warning: 
and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
  • Gossip, Defamation, Slander:
“You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord.”  (Leviticus 19:16).
“A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.”  (Proverbs 16:28).
“As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!”  (Proverbs 25:23).
Although this little fox of gossip can be small, it can surely destroy our soul.  The Bible speaks of gossip as evil speaking, tale bearing, whispering, and slander. The word gossip is defined as a “small talk or chatter about someone, often about things heard from others but not known to be facts." However, it is not small talk with God.  I think that's why the Bible uses much stronger words than gossip.

In James 4:11 we are admonished to “not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”  

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”  (1 Peter 2:1).

Clearly, the effects of gossip are destructive.  Why?  Because it destroys love, friendships, and the trust that people have in others.  Let us then put into practice what the Word of God declares: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”  (Colossians 4:6).

Sadly, many equate frankness with truthfulness, priding themselves in being honest toward all men. However, frankness does not give one license to defame or slander a child of God by gossiping about him.  God's Word demands that we “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”  (Matt. 18:15).

Another way of gossiping is to pass on information about someone that might be damaging to his reputation.  Let us be careful and reflect on the danger of this matter.  Likewise, let us be wise and cautious and not be so eager to disclose the faults and failings of others.  Let us apply the golden rule spoken of by our Lord and Master in Luke 6:31, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”  

Undoubtedly, the wounds of gossip, slander and defamation are devastating leaving behind painful consequences, which are sometimes beyond repair, Proverbs 18:8.  It is a terrible thing to do to anyone, especially in the body of Christ. Gossip separates friends, especially close friends.  
  1. It is evil, and one must repent of it!  
  2. Gossip also sows strife and digs up evil, (Proverbs 16:27).  
  3. Gossip destroys a man's soul, digging his own grave, (Proverbs 18:7).  Unfortunately, the gossiper not only destroys his own soul but the souls of others.  
  4. It is one of the worst of evil. 
  5. It is as harmful as unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, hate, and drunkenness, (Romans 1:29-30; Titus 2:3).
So the best way to resist a gossiper or slanderer is to let him know that your ears are not trash cans for gossip.  Being a good listener to gossip or slander will lure you into sharing your gossip with the gossiper.  Be wise and do not partake of this evil fruit of darkness but rather rebuke it, (Eph. 5:11). Otherwise, you will be in danger of losing your soul eternally.  Think about this!

If there is no need to talk, zip your lips and be silent!!  
  1. Are you one that likes to hear others criticize and condemn our brethren?  
  2. Do you make a habit of criticizing and making fun of other brethren so that you can feel more righteous and faithful?  
  3. Do you talk about others, even brethren, when they are not able to discuss Bible subjects or ideas well?  
You must remember that once someone's reputation is damaged, it cannot be repaired.  Try to release feathers in the wind and see if you can gather them up!  Remember that love must be without hypocrisy of heart (Romans 12:9; 1 Peter 4:8).  Love does not speak evil, backbite nor defame in the absence of others.  
  • Flattery: 
Flattery is another destructive sin of the tongue.   Malignant flattery is wicked and unrighteous. "For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulcher; they flatter with their tongue." (Psalm 5:9). Flattery is a form of lying, and it has no room in the life of a Christian.

In Proverbs, we have many exhortations about flattery.  Proverbs 26:28 says, "A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin."   Proverbs 29:5, "A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet."

Therefore, let us be wise and not partake or be taken in by the flatterer.  And though rebuke is not pleasant, it is more beneficial to us than flattery.  "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”  (Proverbs 27:6).  

We, human beings, like flattery.  It is like music to our ears.  But we must be careful since there is much danger and it might hurt our soul.  Rather, constructive criticism is better for the furthering of our soul. What do you think?

In I Thessalonians 2:5, Paul avoided using flattering words to reach the heart of the brethren.  He declared, “For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness."

It is vital that we understand that a flatterer feeds on giving compliments, that he himself does not believe, so as to take advantage of others and for his personal gain.  Such compliments are mainly designed to inflate people's egos.  Sadly, many fall into this temptation since they have the tendency to love compliments.  What people do not love to hear good things said about themselves?

Those who are easily deceived by flattery are often the ones lacking in humility and are easily inflated with pride. This individual will embrace and accept flattery as a cat does its milk.  
Moreover, those with low self-esteem can be an easy target to the flatterer. Ironically, the flatterer does not usually have a clue about us since he thinks that his flattery will be effective.  

The sad part is that often our sincere and genuine compliments toward others might be taken the wrong way with fear of insincere flattery.  As a result, we neglect to praise and build up those who deserve honor and recognition.  We must be more complimentary of those who need encouragement.

So it is hypocrisy to be a flatterer, and we must be careful not to be enticed by it.  It is pure hypocrisy to praise someone in our presence and then use a knife to stab him in the back in his absence.
  • Cutting and Contentious Words:  
Contention is sometimes unavoidable but can be prevented by proper control of the tongue. Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  It is vital that we learn the art of remaining calm when a storm of contention is brewing.  Proverbs 16:32,  “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city”  Soft words will stop arguments as well as prevent arguments.  Usually, those who want to win arguments still lose. Sadly, many are left feeling inferior, hurt, disappointed, vengeful, and betrayed.  To win an argument often leads to losing a friend, a soul and our Savior's approval.  So why not follow the counsel of God?
    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”  (Prov. 15:1)
    “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.”  (Proverbs 15:18).
    “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”  (Colossians 3:19)
    • Sarcasm:
    Those who have been called to be godly and holy do not use use sarcasm, ridicule, and mockery against the innocent.  However, the Bible gives us some examples of godly men like Elijah who used some sarcasm as righteous anger to mock the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:27). Likewise Jesus used sarcasm as righteous mockery to ridicule the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and self-righteousness (Matt. 23).  Paul also used sarcasm toward the Judaizers (Galatians 5:12).  We still have to be wise and control our tongue, not allowing irony to manipulate us to sin.  The intent of both Jesus and Elijah was not to put down or insult, but to build up and encourage, (1 Thess. 5:11). They spoke in ways to incite the hearers to hear the truth by becoming aware of the absurdity of their wisdom.  The following verses exhort us to not use words of sarcasm:
    "Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I am only joking!'"  (Proverbs 26;18-19)
    “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  (Prov. 12:18)
    “They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's, and under their lips is the venom of asps.”  (Psalm 140:3)
    “Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart, he plans an ambush for him.”  (Jer. 9:8).
    • To Profane God's Name:  
      • Hypocritical Swearing and Cursing:
    Cursing when one is angry is sinful. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”  (Eph. 4:31).

    Expressions such as “hell” and “damn” are curse words.  “Sissy cussing” are expressions such as “darn” or “heavens, no”.  It is the same as loose swearing.

    God warned the Israelites about this: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7).  He is very displeased when one curses and blasphemes His Holy name.  Notice how He warned the Israelites:
    “Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him.”  (Leviticus 24:14).
    “And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 26:16).  
    Regardless of what one might think, profanity is not a mark of strength.  Rather, it is a mark of weakness and folly. Those who profane God’s name show mental poverty and lack of self-control. The one who swears lays aside his character, inflicting pain on those closest to him.  It violates the Word of God.  He is in danger of losing his soul.  The one who curses and profanes the name of the Lord will find it difficult to submit to Him and please Him.  It does not honor our God.

    Sadly, this is a terrible sign of our culture.  In our times, most people are profane in the way that they speak.  Even among women and children and respectable society, it is common to hear vulgar language and what used to be called “strong language.” It is time for us to listen to what the Word of God says and exhort them with  James 3:9-12,
    “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grape vine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” 
    I am perplexed and irritated when I hear someone bless and curse with the same mouth; speaking praise one moment and spewing poisonous words of profanity the next.   Take heed!
    Therefore, let us not take God's name in vain since His name is Holy and awesome, Exodus 20:7; Psalm 111:9.
    • Corrupt or Evil Speech: 
      • Jesting & Idle Words:
    In Matthew 12:36 Jesus said,
    “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”  
    In Ephesians 5, Paul lists some things that were fruits of darkness.  He says, “Let it not be named once among you as becometh saints.” In verse 4 he concludes by saying, “4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”  

    You see “jesting” is on that list.  Let us be careful that all of our joking and humor is righteous that we might not fall into judgment.  An idle word is one which isn’t working or producing good. It is a weed in the garden of speech. Humor has its rightful place. Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good, like medicine . . .”  However, there are some kinds of jesting that are wrong. For instance:
    1. It is sinful to make fun of or take advantage of, a person’s handicap. The law said in Leviticus 19:14 “You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” 
    2. It is also wrong to jest at another’s appearance or misfortune. 
    3. The Word of God has a great deal to say about our daily speech.
    “29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  (Ephesians 4:29).
    “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”  (Ephesians 5:4).
    “34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  (Matt. 12:34).
    And even though we live in a world full of lawlessness, we are not to be of the world (cf. John 17:14-18).  We don't have to behave like the world!  Rather we must seek that which is pure and holy, striving to speak no evil.  So any sexual jokes, insinuations, innuendos, voyeurism, TV, videos filled with corrupt language fall under this category.

    • Euphemisms:
    Our God is very displeased when men use His name in a flippant, frivolous, ungodly, unholy or profane manner.  In Exodus 20:3 we are admonished– “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:4 – “You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” 

    The third commanded, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7) This was designed to offer respect and reverence for God’s name. This is also repeated in Deuteronomy 5:7-11.  One is profane when he uses sacred things in an irreverent or blasphemous manner. The word “vain” in the third of the Ten Commandments, is translated from a word which means in a light, flippant, and contemptuous fashion.

    It is a very serious matter for Christians to use words and phrases that amount to profanity. Words such as Christ, Jesus, Jerusalem, Heaven, Hell, Hades, as interjections and for emphasis. Although most Christians avoid such outright profanity, they will nevertheless use euphemisms (the substitution of a word or phrase less offensive or objectionable). With a little thought, everyone knows what you really meant to say. It is just “Christianized” profanity or “sissy cussing.”  Do these words reflect well on us as children of God?

    Consider some common euphemisms:
      • “Gee-Whiz” 
    Those in the body of Christ who use such euphemisms must be aware of the origin of many of these common by-words.  I bet they will be shocked when they find out the meaning of them.  Some common euphemisms such as “gee-whiz.” “Gee” is a euphemism contraction of the name “Jesus.” It is a slang and has no proper use in our Christian language. It is “a minced form of Jesus, used in mild oaths.”  Another euphemism is “Whiz” which is nothing but a slang word for anything excellent, a corker, sometimes applied to a clever person or thing of excellence. Something or someone of exceptional ability or quality.  The words “gee-whiz” are therefore an oath in which Jesus and something extraordinary or unusual are joined.
      •  “Gosh” 
    It is an interjection used euphemistically for God, an exclamatory slang expression indicating surprise.  The Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary says that it is “a softened form of God, used as a mild oath.” It is occasionally used in a hyphenated fashion such as “Gosh-awful,” which means, literally, God-awful.” In this form, it is often used as an adjective and euphemistically.
      • “Gad,” “Egad” 
    These are terms that are also interjections and are used euphemistically for the word “God” in mild oaths.  They indicate surprise, disgust, dismay, and similar emotions, and are exclamatory in character. They are often joined with other terms of further emphases, such as: “Gee Whilikers” (Dennis, the Menace TV show). The Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary says, “A softened form of the word God as used in mild oaths of which the second element is often a corruption or made up words."
      • “Golly” 
    This word, of extremely common use, is described by the New World Dictionary as “an exclamation of surprise, a euphemism for God.” It is often used in conjunction with the word “by” as in “By golly!” Which is to say “By God!” Sometimes it is used as a noun and at other times as an interjection for the word “God.” Jim Nabor’s character, Gomer Pyle, frequently used this word on his TV program.
      • Good Gracious!  Good Grief! My Goodness!
    These are all mild oaths where the word good or goodness is used for God according to Webster’s New World Dictionary. There are many forms of this usage such as: “Goodness sake!”  “Goodness knows!” “Thank goodness!” All of these are exclamatory expressions in reference to the goodness of God but used in slang for emphasis.  One who thus speaks, calls for God to witness to the statement which the oath is associated with. The expression, “Goodness knows who it could have been” means God only knows and I do not.  In the expression, “Goodness knows it wasn’t me” means God knows it and could affirm my statement.
      • Heavens! Good Heavens! For Heavens’ Sake!  
    These are all statements of exclamatory character, in which the heavens are called to witness to the truth of the statement, or to support the affirmation. Such expressions when used as by-words, as slang, and in a flippant, frivolous fashion, violate our Lord’s injunction set forth in the Sermon on the Mount and recorded in Matthew 5:34-35 “But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.” It is wrong to use the various names of God in our conversation when such usage is not reverent, respectful and sober.  It is a serious matter!  Take heed!

    The Bible indeed has numerous instances of correct usages. For example “God forbid,” “If God wills,” “The Lord grant mercy,” etc.   This manner of expression may be used correctly. The Jews regarded the name of Jehovah as ineffable and to this day refuse to pronounce it in Hebrew. Jesus found their euphemistic profanity equally offensive as He explained in Matthew 23:16-22. He said, "Swear not all!" (Matthew 5:34). It is the profane use of sacred things and names against which the Bible inveighs, all such expressions should be rigidly excluded from our vocabularies.

    • To Sow Discord Among Brethren:  
    This is the one who goes about trying to cause division, using his tongue to create strife among brethren.  Basically, these are trouble makers.  When they don’t like someone, they will deceive with empty words and deceit and do whatever they can to turn each member against the other.  He is never satisfied because he always finds something wrong with others.  He tries his best to turn people against them, using evil and idle words.  He likewise tries to find others who will listen to him when he does not agree with what is being taught.  He gets many to fight against them.  His primary goal is to say things to push his particular belief on others.  The Word of God warns us about such people since they are dangerous and can cause great harm to the church.
     "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  7 Therefore do not be partakers with them."  (Ephesians 5:6)
    "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."  (Colossians 2:8)
    Paul also warned Timothy to avoid getting into petty arguments that have nothing to do with our salvation.
     "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith."  (1 Timothy 6:20).
    "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple."  (Romans 16:17)
      Sowing discord among brethren is one of the seven things God hates, Prov. 6:16-19.
    • To Murmur or Criticize:  
    Using our tongue to complain or criticize with a wrong attitude of heart is sinful.  In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus warned, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”  Jesus was not condemning the proper kind of judgment since He said in John 7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” 

    What Jesus was prohibiting was faultfinding and criticism where there was no basis (no law).
    “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”  (Phil. 2:14).
    “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”  (James 4:11).
    • To Talk Too Much:  
    “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”  (Prov. 10:19).
    We must be careful to tell every truth we know.  However, there is a lot of truth that should not be repeated.  Think before you utter words:
    1. Does it help?  
    2. Does it edify? 
    3. Is there any godly purpose?
    “The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”  (Prov. 13:3)
    “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.”  (Proverbs 13:3)
    Remember that silence is golden.  Don't we all need to learn this?  It would be better to use fewer words. Alas, how often are we guilty of saying too much, too many words?! We must learn to cherish silence and measure our words with caution when we speak. In Ecclesiastes 5:2 we have a warning:

    “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.”

    Again in Matthew 12:36-37:
     “36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”   
    "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent."  (Proverbs 10:19).
    Consider other passages concerning the power of our words (James 3:5-8; Proverbs 18:21; Matthew 12:33:35; Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 13:3).  We are going to be condemned or justified by our words. Likewise, we will give an account for every idle word that we speak. Let us develop better listening skills. Take heed!


    IV.   PROPER USES OF THE TONGUE:

    We have already covered several improper (sinful) uses of the tongue.  However, we can use our tongues profitably, but we must learn to use it well so that we can edify and give life.  Consider the following suggestions:
    • Using Our Tongue For Prayer:
    We have been commanded to “pray without ceasing.”  (1 Thess. 5:17).  What could be more spiritually profitable than using our tongues to pray?  Praying for strength to overcome all of life's trials, troubles and temptations.  Praying for the sick and those who are seeking the Truth.  Praying for the furthering of the Gospel.  Praying for our weak and wandering brethren.  Praying for the church's growth.  Therefore, let us use our tongue to pray, pray, pray...!
    • Using Our Tongue For Praising and Thanksgiving:
    “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”  (Hebrews 13:15)
    “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18).
    As Christians, we must not consider our good fortune to be the result of chance circumstances. Every good gift is from God, (James 1:17).  Therefore, He is to be praised and thanked for His lovingkindness and goodness.  And what better way than to do it with our mouths, our speech.  Our mouths should be faithful in public praise through worship.  That is, we must be eager to assemble with our brethren to praise and worship God, using our tongues to praise Him in songs, (Eph. 5:19-20).  Therefore, let us use our tongues to offer thanksgiving and praise to our Lord always.
    • Using Our Tongue to Teach Others The Gospel:
    We must use our tongue to exhort and help others to obey the gospel of salvation.  Jesus, our Lord, commanded His disciples before He ascended to heaven saying: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  (Mark 16:15-16).

    So why not use our tongues to preach and teach the saving Gospel message to every person?! 

    There is a lot of work to do!  Many souls need to be saved.  Therefore, we must use our tongues to convert many lost souls:  our family, friends, and neighbors.  It is our God-given duty to plead with them to believe and obey the gospel that they might be saved.  It is also our responsibility to restore our erring brethren.  May we all look for opportunities to teach the gospel of grace to save men from the terrors of eternal hell.  May we use our tongues to teach the good news, exhorting all men to obey it!
    • Using Our Tongue to Encourage Others:
    In Romans 13:7 we are told, “Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”  Therefore, let us use our tongues to offer praises, compliments, and honor to those who are doing good works for the glory of God.  Likewise, let us use our tongues to encourage those who are struggling because of trials, whether they are personal failure, sickness, injury, bereavement or family problems.  Let us let them know that we are praying for them. Remind them of God's love and promises, Romans 8:28; I Cor. 10:13.  Therefore, let us use our tongues to encourage others with our words (preachers, elders, wives, husbands, our neighbors, our children, our brothers and sisters in Christ).


    CONCLUSION:

    My prayer is that this study may edify you.  I pray that if you have been misusing your tongue, you will begin using your tongue the way God wants you to so that you may not come to judgment.  It is vital for our hearts to be pure so that our thoughts and words may be pure.  Life and death are in the power of our tongue both physically and spiritually.  Therefore, let us bring our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

    Remember that a wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit, Proverbs 15:4.  Our words must be pure and refreshing all the time!  “Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”  (Proverbs 16:24).  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in setting of silver.”  (Proverbs 25:11).

    If we are not careful with our words, we might inflict extensive damage and cause others to be discouraged.  “If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man’s religion is vain.”  (James 1:26).

    To understand the power of the tongue is the first step in using it correctly.  Let us always remember that our tongues are capable of great destruction.  It is a little member that can start a great fire that rages quickly out of control, destroying lives, souls, friendships, reputations, and hearts.  Let us not allow our tongue to cause us to sin against God.  In the Day of Judgment, we must face the record of all our words.  Thus we need to pray: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”  (Psalm 141:3).  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”  (Psalm 19:14).

    Let us take to heart Jesus' words recorded in Matthew 12:36-37:  “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

    Therefore, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”  (James 1:26).  “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” (Psalm 39:1).  Let us take heed!

    Let us learn to season our words with meekness and fear that we might be able to reach out to others and teach them the good news (the gospel).  Rather than using our words to tear down others, let us use them to build up others.  Let us use the words of our mouths to encourage others and to teach the lost. Let us use our tongues wisely and not foolishly.  Moreover, let our words be few and let us be careful with them.  Remember that the message of Christ and His church can get lost if we use unnecessary words.

    May we never make the gospel message more complicated than it needs to be.  May we always remember Matthew 12:36-37 that teaches that we will give an account to God for every word that comes out of our mouths.  May we always control our tongues in all circumstances; whether in public teaching or when we are angry at someone or telling a joke that we shouldn't. When we are tempted to lie, gossip, curse, use profanity or vulgar language.  May we always be alert and remember that our God hears and knows everything there is in our heart.  May we always use our tongue properly to edify and bless others.  Finally, may we never under any circumstance underestimate the power of our words.  They can wound, destroy, inspire and heal.  The choice is yours!

    Luci