Taming the Tongue, Part I

“Brothers, do not slander one another.  Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it.  When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it.” James 4:11

I recently had an experience to which I bet you can relate : I was seated with other Christians when out of nowhere gossip arose and took root in the conversation.

As I listened to the conversation for a moment, I felt very sad.  I had always been so impressed that this group of Christians had never exhibited this behavior.  I moved and engaged others in conversation who were nearby.

But, later, I was berating myself left and right.  I knew that the fact I had not participated in the conversation was not enough.  I was in a room full of Christians- why did I not speak up?

Turning to the Bible, I reviewed a few points of truth and verses I knew:

1.  Gossip is wrong.  “With our tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praises and cursing.  My brothers this should not be! ” James 3:9-10

2. As Christians we are called to set the record straight : “Speak up and judge fairly , defend the rights of the poor and the needy.” Proverbs 31:9

Sharing my thoughts with my husband he offered a piece of wisdom: call a more mature Christian woman who was also present.  I would not be repeating the conversation or telling her anything she did not already know.  Learn her take on the situation.

His advice was priceless, because her advice was brilliant.

Whenever you hear gossip taking root in a conversation, politely interrupt, and say “it sounds like they really can use prayer.”  And start a prayer right then and there. “Take it back to God, which is directly where it needs to go”.  Her wonderful quote, not mine.

What words of wisdom!  I did not need to necessarily confront anyone.  I could interrupt the conversation and halt the misconduct, and then encourage all of us to turn it over to God, which is the best thing we could do for anyone.

After that conversation, my spirit was flooded with peace.

I know that Christians are not infallible.  But it is hard when people you admire and hold in very high respect exhibit their humanness.  We are to hold each other accountable, in a way which is humble and glorifying to God. Should this behavior continue in the future, there would be a need to confront on a one on one basis, after much prayer!

As I reflected on our conversation the following verse came to mind: “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26 That verse adequately described this mentor.  It also provides Christian women everywhere with a great goal.  For Christians everywhere, male and female, may our words always encourage and lift up one another.

Reflections:

1.) Do I keep a tight rein on my tongue, and abstain from sharing information about others which is not edifying?

2.) How will I handle myself the next time gossip rears its ugly head?

3.) How can I encourage others to think about their words without preaching at them?

Please return Feb 27 for the next post: Taming the Tongue, Part II.

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