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Archive for the ‘A Beautiful Tongue’ Category

In this last installment of the series, I would like to share with you the beauty of having a simple tongue.

• A simple tongue uses a “Yes,” or “No.” Matthew 2:34-37 – “But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” God loves simple answers.

• A simple tongue doesn’t try to impress others. A simple tongue doesn’t purchase name-brand clothes, or try to keep up with the latest fashions in order to be “in style”. There is nothing necessarily wrong with the clothes and fashions themselves (unless they are immodest, or in some other way displeasing to God). Your motives, rather, determine the right- or wrong-ness of these things. 1 Corinthians 13:4 – “…love does not parade itself, is not puffed up…” Are you like the Pharisees, desiring the praise of men more than the praise of God? (John 12:43) Don’t worry about what other people think. Only worry about what God thinks. That’s all that matters in the end.

• A simple tongue avoids exaggeration. Once again, this is a form of trying to impress people. Exaggeration is lying, because it is not the absolute truth. Enough said.

• A simple tongue sets us free. We don’t have to act like something we are not. Be yourself, live for the glory of God, and don’t try to be like other people. (This is not to say you shouldn’t have role models. These are all well and good in their proper place, if they are demonstrating lives that are pleasing to the Lord and in accordance with His will for them.) God made you exactly as you are for a special role in His plan. (Psalm 139:14) Imagine His grief if you try to be someone else.

• A simple tongue uses simple language with God. God wants us to pray to Him the way we think and speak. He doesn’t want us to use big, impressive, sophisticated words. You can’t succeed in “faking it” to God. He knows the real you. When you talk to God, He wants you to respect Him, but most of all He wants you to share your heart with Him – not the heart of someone else. (Matthew 6:5-8)

I hope this series has shown you, as it did me, the importance of guarding your tongue carefully, and really thinking about what you say. I pray that you will commit your tongue to God. Psalm 37:5 – “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Ask Him to help you use your tongue to make a difference for His glory.

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Numbers 14:27-30 – “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in…’” Wow. This is how God dealt with a complaining people.

Jude 14b-15 – “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” Who are these ungodly that will be punished? “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts…” (v. 16)

Let’s take a look at an example of someone in the Bible who had plenty to complain about, and yet he did not.  He tells about some of these things in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.  He was beaten, shipwrecked, forcibly evicted, stoned, persecuted, imprisoned, and he had a thorn in the flesh (given to him by God to make him humble – 2 Corinthians 12:7). 

Even after all this, he didn’t complain!  In fact, here’s what he had to say: Philippians 4:11-13 – “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  What a positive attitude!  Paul used the words “joy” and “rejoice” 16 times in the 4 chapters of Philippians!

  • A positive tongue handles hardship with great strength. Romans 5:3-4 (again this is Paul) – More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (also Philippians 4:13)
  • A positive tongue will improve your church life.  Philippians 2:14-15a – “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish…”
  • A positive tongue will improve your home life.  (Proverbs 25:24)
  • A positive tongue doesn’t complain about things being done wrong, but instead does what can be done to correct it.  (This is a big one for me!)  Do you ever find yourself criticizing or complaining about: your church, school, friends, family, etc.?  Stop complaining!  Instead find what you can do to make things better!

Challenge:

* When you’re tempted to complain, don’t!  Instead, look for the positive in the situation, and thank God.

* If you think something should be done differently, instead of criticizing, see what you can do to improve it, with an attitude of love.

Verses for today: 1 Timothy 6:6 – “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”  Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘”I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

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Let’s begin by looking at what God thinks of the truth.

Psalm 51:6 – “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” God wants complete honesty.

Proverbs 12:22 – “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” God detests lies; He delights in a truthful person.

Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” God expressly commanded against lying; this must be important to Him!

God is a God of TRUTH.  Numbers 23:19 – “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Satan is the father of liars. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44, also see surrounding verses)

So it’s a no-brainer, right?  Always tell the truth!  But it’s not always that easy – especially when you might get someone in trouble… or yourself!

Check out Acts 5:1-11.  This couple, Ananias and Sapphira, are known in history for lying!  Do you want that to be your legacy?  “Remember so-and-so, the liar?”  I don’t want to be remembered that way!

Here are some tips on telling the truth:

    1) Telling the truth is so much easier if you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Always.

    2) Make sure what you’re telling is completely true… not just partly true.

    3) A truthful tongue also speaks up to defend the truth.

    4) A truthful tongue distinguishes when something is fact, or just opinion.

    5) A truthful tongue is careful about using absolutes (always, ever, never).  In most cases, these words can only be used in relation to God.  He always loves, He has never sinned…

    6) A truthful tongue is careful about “White Lies.”  There are no “smaller” or “bigger” lies. All lies are lies in God’s sight.  By the way, excuses are also lies.

    7) Telling the truth builds trust.  Don’t be known as a liar!  If you lie to someone once, they will never trust you the same again for a long time, if ever.  If people lie to you, they quite possibly lie about you, also.

    8) Telling the truth takes the worry out of talking.  You don’t have to worry about keeping up with all those lies!

Take a look at who else is identified with liars in Revelation 21:8: “… the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars…”  Do we want to be comparable to these kinds of people?  I don’t think so! 

It is possible to change.  Ephesians 4:25 – “Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor…” It takes two actions, though: 1) Stop lying, 2) Speak the truth.

Psalm 15:1-2 – “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.”

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Are you a gossip? A gossip is a “person who has the habit of revealing personal or sensational facts about others.” Gossip is a disease that infects almost every tongue – young and old, male and female, rich and poor, married and single… This “disease” habit of gossip is easily passed from victim to victim.

You may be thinking right now as I have, “I don’t gossip. I never try to hurt people by telling bad things about them.” Have you ever used these excuses? (Yes. That’s all they are.) “I don’t mean to talk about him, but…” “This is just between you and me…” “Bless her heart…” And here’s a big one in the Christian community: “We need to pray for so-and-so, because…”

A tongue that does not gossip…

• …Solves the retrieval problem. To illustrate this point, I must share a story, which went something like this. There was a woman who went to see a wise man for advice on how to stop her bad habit of gossip. The man handed her a dead bird, and instructed her to pluck all of the feathers off of it, and spread them along the path on her way home, then to return to him for further instructions. The woman did as instructed, and returned. The man then continued, “Now go back and pick up all those feathers and put them in this sack, and bring them back to me.” The woman protested, “But that’s impossible! The wind blew them all over the place!” “So it is with your words,” the wise man told her, “They scatter every which way, and it is impossible to take them all back.” Ecclesiastes 10:20 – “Do not curse the king, even in your thought; Do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; For a bird of the air may carry your voice, And a bird in flight may tell the matter.” Don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face. Ouch.

• …Expresses love. Choose not to spread stories you hear about others. Proverbs 17:9 – “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Keep no record of being wronged – don’t spread rumors out of spite. Rejoice only in the truth. Always believe the best.

• …Chooses to keep busy. Some people gossip because they don’t have anything else to talk about. Enrich your mind and become equipped with other things to talk about. For example, an upcoming event, a sport, books that you like, your quiet time, things having to do with school, etc. You can tell a lot about a person’s intellect by what they talk about. “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

• … Needs a healthy self-respect. Often times people gossip about others because they want to feel good about themselves. “To speak ill of others is only a round-about way of bragging about yourself.” Wow. Matthew 22:39 – Until we accept that God loves us and we are special to Him, we cannot truly love others.

Exercise these speech testers:

* Test every story you tell about someone by Philippians 4:8. Is it true? …honest? …pure? …lovely? … If it passes all of those, then it is alright to say.

* Is this person I’m about to tell part of the problem or part of the solution? If neither, do not tell them.

* When you are tempted to talk about someone, think through these questions: Is this necessary to say? Will it hurt someone at some point? Would I say this about this person to their face? What does this attitude say about my character? What else could I say instead that glorifies God instead of me?

Verses for today: Proverbs 26:20 – “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” Proverbs 17:9 – “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.” Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

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1 Corinthians 13:1 – “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  Do you know how annoying gongs and cymbals can be if they are played over, and over, and over…!!  Well, God says that’s how our words can sound to people, if they are not spoken kindly, in love.

  • A kind tongue makes things better at home.  Respond with kind words. 2 Chronicles 10:7 – “If you are kind to these people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be your servants forever.”  It is easy to serve someone who is kind.  Kind words resolve arguments, and make peace. (Romans 14:19)
  • A kind tongue overcomes speech problems – not like a speech impediment, but a fear of speaking to people.  This goes hand in hand with a truthful tongue.  Ephesians 4:15 – “Rather, speaking the truth in love…”  Even if the truth isn’t good, it can be spoken in kindness and love.
  • A kind tongue causes peace.  1 Peter 3:9-10 – “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.”  When people are mean, they usually have been hurt.  If we show love to them, their thoughts may change!
  • A kind tongue is a GREAT witness of Jesus’ changing power!  If they see something different in us, they will want to know what is different.  1 Peter 2:23 – “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

Challenge:

1)      Choose a person who irritates you, and speak kindly to them in every situation – and not only to them, but also about them.

2)      Hold your tongue next time someone is unkind to you.  Try to understand why they are being unkind.

Verses for today: Colossians 4:6 – “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”  Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

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Matthew 15:11 – “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

  • A clean tongue displays reverence for all things.  Ephesians 5:4 – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”  Bad jokes, rude stories – they are not for us.  Use your words to be thankful to God instead.
  • A clean tongue displays good stewardship of God.  God has given us the use of clear, concise, intriguing speech to communicate with one another and build one another up.  Even if words are not cuss words, they can still hurt.  Use your words for God’s glory!
  • A clean tongue indicates our ability to deal appropriately with the frustrations of life.  People are watching and listening.  What’s in your heart will come out of your mouth in frustrating times. Matthew 12:34 – For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
  • A clean tongue shows reverence for God.  Exodus 20:7 – “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Don’t use God’s name in vain – avoid even coming close. (Geah!  Gees! Gosh! – these are only variations) Psalm 29:2 – “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Matthew 6:9 – “…Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.”  His name identifies who He is.  He is holy, and His name shouldn’t be used in any other way.
  • A clean tongue reveals a pure heart.  Matt. 15:18 – “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”  When a pot boils over, the contents come out. If a person is full of bitterness and anger, bitter and angry words come out.  But if a person is filled with the love, grace and peace of God, loving, graceful and peaceful words will flow out.
  • A clean tongue is a witnessing tongue.  Because a clean tongue is unusual, other people will see something different. (Matthew 5:16)

Verse for today: Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

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This lesson is so convicting to me!

What keeps you from sharing your faith with others?  If you are like me, and most other Christians, pride most often gets in the way – being afraid of what people will think of you.  Listen to this: We don’t have to do the talking – just let the Holy Spirit work!

  • A private faith must also be a public faith.  Matthew 5:16 – “…Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Don’t hide your light under a bushel.  If we take the initiative and start it, He will finish it. (Philippians 1:6)
  • What the heart knows, the tongue must say.  Hide God’s Word in your heart and use it! Psalm 37:31 – “The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.” Psalm 119:11 – Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!”
  • A beautiful life and beautiful tongue must go together to make a beautiful witness.  Is your life demonstrating Jesus or the world?  Someone who is a nice person is more likely to be listened to.  (Check out Matthew 23:25-26)  Though God places emphasis on inner beauty (1 Peter 3:4), the world judges by the outer, and first impressions can be very important.  Don’t be harsh, but kind and gentle.  Let the love of God flow out of you!  (John 7:38, 13:35) We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ.  We hold His name, and we must represent Him well.
  • Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we are helpless.  Galatians 5:25 – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the spirit.”  Allow the Holy Spirit to rule all areas of your life. 

Remember, we live in a world where people are dying every day from a disease called sin.  We have the ultimate cure for this disease!  We shouldn’t be worried about what we will say, because it is the Holy Spirit that does the work in their hearts.  We are just tools in the hands of the Almighty God!

Verses for today:  Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”  Mark 16:15 – “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’”

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