So have you mastered that “taming the tongue” thing yet?
I’m wrestling right now, wrestling not with something I said, but wrestling with something I DID NOT say. I’ll come back to that in a second…
I’m honored to be preparing to preach at my home church this Sunday. Sticking with the current series through the Gospel of Mark, I am getting ready for Mark 7:1-23. At the end of that passage Mark (likely penning Peter’s thoughts) writes:
“For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
- Mark 7:21-22
The context of this passage is significant, but can be summed up by saying that some believe holiness can be achieved through our own effort and actions. In short, Jesus confronts and teaches about the traditions of the Pharisees and the heart of people. Because the heart is evil (not one righteous- Romans 3:10), holiness can be received, not achieved.
I think of that list from Mark 7:21-22 and see what many would consider “major” sin areas. But the reality is, all of them are major and each affects the lives of others. But in the midst of these majors are a few that I believe are less obvious to all onlookers (therefore some may be consider them less major).
Arrogance. Folly. Slander.
Back to my wrestling…
I am a loyal friend. But awhile back I violated that loyalty by not saying what needed to be said. I was speaking to an acquaintance about a youth ministry subject. Somehow the conversation turned to the name of a friend of mine. This acquaintance did not know the depth of relationship I had with this friend. The acquaintances words were unkind, born out of arrogance and borderline slanderous. My non-response was my folly.
Let me quickly point out, I have certainly been “the acquaintance” as well. I have been very unwise with the words that I have spoken. Through Christ (and for His kingdom), I hope to see this change.
James 3 is probably the most in-depth section of Scripture on taming the tongue. It speaks of the positive and negative aspects of this little powerful body-part, as I read it I see wisdom I can apply, even for this situation.
In the future, when hearing slander and gossip, my prayer is that I would:
- Stop the onslaught.
- Graciously (and kindly) point out the nature of my relationship with the person being spoken of while also pointing out the character qualities I most admire about that person.
- Hope and pray it is received well while also praying that my own hypocrisy not become an issue.
I believe, in the named situation, that the acquaintance would have received the words well and perhaps my friend would even be seen in a more positive light. I believe that the kind words would have been so disarming.
As believers we are all on the same team, striving for His glory. I hope to be a better teammate and use my little instrument for His righteousness and to build up the team! Let’s all be loyal friends!
Though I’ll likely never master it, I certainly hope to tame this little beast one day at a time!