Summary: The way we speak and what we say reveals a great deal about our Christian character or lack of Christian character. The tongue is the most powerful influence in the church and it is able to build people up or tear them down.
This evening I want us to look at four words spoken to peter in Matthew 26:73 “your speech betrays you.”
Let me put these words into context for you:
The flames cast eerie shadows over the mixed group crowding in for warmth. The talk was of the man from Galilee who had been arrested by the temple guard for blasphemy.
Who had seen him.
What did they think.
Was he God or was he the devil?
And as they spoke someone pointed to the burly young stranger in the corner.
“You, you were with the one called jesus.”
“No you’re wrong.” He said, “I don’t know the carpenter” but somebody else piped up “sure you do, i’m positive of it”
and this time peter the fisherman
ignoring the fact that he was in mixed company
answered by cursing and swearing.
The group turned away from him and started talking amongst themselves when one broke away from the others and approached the scowling simon peter and said matthew 26:73 “surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
“your speech betrays you.”
Now the literal meaning of this statement is that something that Peter said,
or how Peter said it revealed that he was from Galilee.
This is backed up by the way the word speech is translated in some versions as accent - your accent betrays you.
Different groups of people have distinct ways of speaking. Englishmen, scots, the irish, australians, canadians and americans all claim english as their native language and yet they all speak differently.
And so the literal meaning of the passage is that Peter’s Galilean accent gave him away.
“your speech betrays you.”
There is a very important message in these words
a message that cannot be ignored.
The way we speak and what we say reveals a great deal about our Christian character or lack of Christian character.
The tongue is the most powerful influence in the church and it is able to build people up or tear them down.
A minster was asked the question “Do you pray that your people will get the gift of tongues?”
“No” he replied, “i’m praying they will learn to control the one they’ve got now.”
The tongue is responsible for some of the most destructive sins in the church and in the same breath it can build up believers like nothing else can.
A.B. Simpson, wrote this “I would rather play with forked lightning or take in my hand live wires with their fiery current then to speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ, or idly repeat the slanderous darts which thousands of Christians are hurling at others, to the hurt or their own souls and bodies.”
I have met Christians who are so proud of their holy living, they say things like “I would never touch tobacco or the alcohol - i’ve never played poker, or gone to a cinema even to see Bambi, nor do I even tap my feet to a lively tune.”
And yet those very same people cut other christians to shreds with their tongues and don’t even feel guilty after they’ve committed verbal murder or performed a character assassination.
The truth is there is a lot more in the bible about gossip then there is about drinking, smoking, gambling, movie going and dancing combined.
The bible talks about our need to have our old natures crucified,
well I’ve met many christians that would benefit from having their tongue nailed to a cross,
myself included at times.
The vast majority of our world does not know what james 3:12 says Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
and yet almost everybody recognises and acknowledges the truth of that verse
Can a fig tree produce olives or a grapevine produce figs? Does fresh water come from a well full of salt water?
Often the truth hurts, and we may not like the truth, but the truth is,
that many of the judgments made both inside the church and outside the church on the depth of your spiritual walk will be made based on what you say and how you say it.
In the book of galatians 5:19-23 says
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Notice how many of these, for example anger, hostility, jealousy, arguing, troublemaking and envy are manifested through speech. That is they are all actions which are expressed, enlarged or revealed through our words.