Destructive Speech

Capital One asks: What’s in your wallet? I ask, What’s in your mouth? I’ve learned that every day I pack a powerful weapon, a little instrument inside my mouth, the tongue, which only gets sharper with use. If we are not careful, it can become a critical, catty, conniving, and callous instrument.  It can slice and dice someone’s reputation and good standing in less than a minute. It can destroy a lifelong relationship in seconds. It can block the sweet aroma of distinctiveness we were designed to emit.

We live in a culture that says, “If you know it, share it.” No matter what it is, if it’s the truth, tell it. If you want to blast it, blog it. If you think it, tweet it. If you want to share it (whatever “it” is), put it on Facebook. No information is sacred. People get a thrill out of exposing the good, the bad, and the ugly in a matter of seconds. No time for fact-checking or asking, “Is it wise to do this?” This quick to the draw philosophy is not in step with God’s timeless truths about our tongue. “Too much talk leads to sin” (Proverbs 10:19 NLT).

I’ve discovered the longer I talk, the greater my chances of saying something I should not say and sinning with my tongue. I’m just talking to be talking. Have you ever had this experience? Your conversation starts out with need-to-know information, and as it progresses you begin speculating about other people, questioning and indicting their decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with you. Their situation bombards your mind all day. You can’t function at your optimum. You’re not praying for them, just thinking about it or telling others about it. Chances are you slipped into the sins of gossip and slander.

What is gossip? It is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It is habit forming. Gossip is an acceptable cultural pastime because we are inundated with information about the private affairs of those we know and don’t know personally as a result of reality TV, celebrity magazines, and all forms of social media. When it doesn’t come to us, we can go to it and quell our curiosity. Gossip is inviting and “delicious.” “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 26:22).

Where gossip is, slander usually follows. Slander is a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report. It’s spreading false information or rumors with the intent to ruin someone’s reputation. It’s premeditated. You know exactly what sharing that information will do: it will put a blight on someone’s character and ignite a firestorm. Engaging in both of these pastimes is sin. It is so easy for us to be repelled by what we consider the big sins and look with contempt on those who murder or commit adultery. We are smug in our righteousness because we don’t do those things—but our words and word count equally matter to God. “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you” (Matthew 12:36-37 NLT).

What a sobering reality that every careless, idle word we speak will be judged by God Himself. This is definitely an incentive to only speak when we have something constructive to say. What grade would you give your daily speech? The talk about yourself, and about others? Let’s aim for an A.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: