Focal Passages: Proverbs 17:27-28; 21:23; 18:19-21; 11:13; 26:20-24; 10:18-19; 12:17-19; 25:11-13; 31:8-9
When I was a child one of the songs we sang in church warned, “Oh be careful little mouth what you speak.” The tongue, because of the words it speaks, has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). We could compare it to a large crane that can be equipped with a wrecking ball for destructive purposes or with a hook for constructive purposes. First Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up.” Unlike the three little pigs, we can’t build with straw, sticks or bricks. Even kind thoughts and hugs won’t truly build up fellow Christians; we must use carefully chosen words. Just as a reputable carpenter wouldn’t nail up the first board he could find simply because it was on the top of the stack, we must sort through all the things we could say and build up the body of Christ with edifying words. Too often believers blurt out thoughtless words and try to justify them because they somehow delivered the truth. While such words technically get the job done, they could be compared to tacks driven by a sledgehammer. The harm clearly outweighs the good.
Gossip, while usually is built on hearsay, can also be made up of truths that simply don’t need to be repeated. Although Christians may be wrongly accused of gossip because they expose hidden sin, often they unwittingly contribute to gossip by not concealing a matter (Proverbs 11:13) that needs to die for the good of God’s people. This error may involve private sins that don’t need to be made public, or known matters than bring greater hurt and dissention when they are repeated. On the farm we learned a valuable lesson pertaining to all things rotten: the more you stir them, the more they stink!
As people redeemed by the blood of Jesus, we must remember that our new hearts should produce new, redemptive words that give grace to their hearers (Ephesians 4:29) and display the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 2:20).