Watch your speech

James, thought to be the Lord’s brother,  tells us in James 3:5-8 (KJV) “5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! ⁶ And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. ⁷ For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: ⁸ But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
The truth of this passage is demonstrated by an incident I read of over 40 years ago.  I deliberately leave out names in the event this was not a true story.  “In an eastern state, the story is told about a doctor who remarked concerning two young men – roommates home from college who had just left his office – that ‘the first boy is brighter than the second boy.’  A lady in the office heard it and went and told the mother of the second boy before going home.  She also told other people that the doctor said the one boy was  brighter than the other.  These two families had been friends in years gone by.  Their sons were roommates at college but this little remark on the part of the doctor was magnified until the two families had a falling out.  The boys returned to college.  One became a lawyer, the other a doctor.  They settled in their home village and opened practices there.  One August when the election had grown quite hot, these two young men met on the street and engaged in an argument.  One drew his pistol and shot the other.  That one as he fell, drew his pistol and shot the other, killing him.  Both boys were dead.  One of them, just before he died, said, ‘How foolish, how foolish, how foolish’ three times.
“These two mothers, broken hearted, continued to live in this same little village.  A short time later one of the mothers said she was going over to see the other lady.  Her husband said, ‘She’ll spit in your face if you go over there.’  She prepared some rose cuttings, went over to see that lady and said, ‘I’m going to plant some rose cuttings, one on your boy’s grave.  I’d like for you to plant one on my son’s grave.’  The two mothers wept.  They forgave each other and embraced.  Together they went to the cemetery and planted their roses.  But how late they had waited.  How great was the trouble caused by a wagging tongue and an unforgiving spirit.”
I don’t know who reported this incident, but I do know that loose and idle chatter along with gossip has caused more than enough disturbances within families, communities, and even within churches.  One would think that we would learn from the wisdom of the Biblical record that we should be “swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath,” (James 1:19).  Paul describes a category of people that might fall prey to the temptation of the idle tongue and uses this description for them:  1 Timothy 5:13 (KJV) ¹³ And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
One of the great ways to build the local church up is found in Ephesians 4:29 ( KJV ) “²⁹ Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  We must watch our speech.  Our words  do matter.

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