Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Curbing the Tongue

So much suffering is caused by not knowing when to be silent. To quote:
Talking is one of those things that we should quit while we are ahead. “In a multitude of words, sin is not lacking” (Proverbs 10:19). I am often guilty of this so I am not pointing fingers. I think women are especially vulnerable because we tend to be sociable and innately talk more than men—not that men can’t also wag a mean tongue.
Our tongues often seem to have a mind of their own and before we know it, we’ve blurted out too much information or something better left unsaid. Sometimes we mask gossip as concern—I’m really worried about her…. or excuse it as a need to vent or confide in someone.
And yet, in the confessional, we need to acknowledge that we have sinned. I’ve heard some people say that as long as it’s true, it’s not really gossip. Or others know about it anyways, so it’s okay to repeat. But God reads what is in our hearts. If we do not have a valid reason to let someone know about something—information that they need to know to prevent a problem—then spreading scandal or reporting on bad behavior is simply not our God-given task. For me, I use the standard that if I won’t say it in front of the person or want them to know I said it, then I should not say it at all.
The Power of Words
Here are some common ways that our words get us into trouble.
  • Detraction – repeating something true without a good reason (Sirach 21).
  • Racial jokes that encourage hatred or sexual jokes which use impurity for entertainment (Ephesians 5:3-4).
  • Calumny – talking about someone’s faults. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned…” (Luke 6:37).
  • Arguing – speaking nasty or using biting remarks
  • Criticizing –constant complaining and scolding to vent rather than desire to help another out of love. (Proverbs 21:9).
  • Breaking confidences – “Don’t tell anyone else, but…..” (Proverbs 11:13).
  • Listening to the words of others can be wrong. “An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue” (Proverbs 17:4).
God gave us the gift of speech. We use it to praise and glorify him. Our words can evangelize and lift others up in spirit. But talking can also be a waste of time, empty, frivolous, and gossipy. It can take time away from our family, prayer or tasks we should be tending to. (Read entire post.)

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