See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. James 3:5-12
What comes out of your mouth? Is it words of encouragement for your brethren or is it grumbling? When you are in church do you talk well to others and then when you are away do you whisper and backbite? Do you find fault with those that God has put in leadership? Do you have control over your tongue or does the Holy Spirit? Charles Spurgeon once said, Fault finding is dreadfully catching; one dog can send a whole kennel howling." Paul said in Ephesians 4:29; Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
The horror of gossip turns language or words, our best gift and most powerful tool, into a cruel weapon. Idle talk mangles truth and exchanges wisdom for foolishness Gossip is the opposite of love (1 Cor. 13:6; Gal. 5:14,15). Instead of helpfulness it brings hurt. Instead of peace it brings anger and strife (Prov. 16:28; 2 Cor. 12:20). Where there should be trust it brings betrayal (Prov. 20:19).
Let’s face it, we love to talk and to many of us gossip is a form of entertainment. It gives our flesh a boost and is like a drug. There is a saying that my mom always says; If you don’t have anything good to say about a person, don’t say anything at all.
Let’s look at a hypothetical situation; One Monday there was a pastor who had to pick up his younger sister at the airport. The sister who was not a Christian was having trouble in her marriage. On their way home the wife of an important member of the congregation who had never seen this sister before saw them together in the pastor’s car and waved at him, but because the pastor was involved in deep conversation with his sister he didn’t see the woman. As soon as the woman got home she called her closest friend and told her that she had seen the pastor with an attractive woman and that he had ignored her. When her husband got home she told him the same thing. Soon almost the whole church believed that the pastor was having a secret affair. A board meeting was called and the pastor was called in to be confronted about this secret relationship of his. Everyone was afraid to ask the pastor himself about it, but they were not afraid to discuss it behind his back. Imagine the shame the leadership felt after they found out it was the pastor’s sister. A trust was broken that week and a church almost destroyed. Like James said; "See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" One idle word can bring down an entire church.
Jesus said "Men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt. 12:36,37).
Each of us has been guilty of this sin at one time or another. It is very easy to slip into. We need to ask God’s Holy Spirit to keep our mouths and set a guard over our tongues. Let’s become firefighters instead of fire starters.
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