Summary: The issue is not learning how to control our tongues, but experiencing something new in our hearts.
Open: Our lives are filled with a long train of clich¨¦s -- saying and expressions that are so familiar to us that we heard said so many times we can finish them before the person talking gets to the end of it. So we’re going to start off today with a pop quiz to see how many of these clich¨¦s you know by heart.
Many hands make .... light work
Don’t put off to tomorrow ..... what you can do today
Any friend of yours is.... a friend of mine
A chain is only as strong as ...its weakest link
Don’t throw the baby out with.... the bath water. ( I wonder if anyone ever actually did this?) "Oops I didn’t realize there was a baby in there!"
An apple a day .... keeps the doctor away. (that definitely originated from someone with an apple orchard.)
Be it ever so humble, there’s ...no place like home.
A bird in the hand is worth, .... two in the bush.
The more things change, the ....... more they stay the same.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it ...... a thousand times.
Sometimes clich¨¦s express good common sense -- street wisdom if you will. But sometimes they are absolutely wrong. for example, if I said, "I wasn’t laughing at you, I was laughing .... with you"
Chances are that’s not really true. If you hear someone say this, chances are they’re just throwing a clich¨¦ out there trying to cover up what they are really doing. They are definitely laughing at you. And of course we’re all familiar with;
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but ... words will never hurt me."
Is that true? Of course not. We know it’s wrong. It’s grade school wisdom that we used in defense of the mean bully in the school yard. He was mean spirited and foul mouthed but unfortunately, he was also bigger than us. So we used a little clich¨¦ to try to defuse the verbal assault we were enduring at the time. But inside we knew it wasn’t true. Word do hurt and when mean spirited people say mean things about us -- it not only hurts, but it often stays with a long time after the words have been spoken.
So most likely every one of us have had our mothers teach this age old proverb --
"If you can’t say something nice about someone then ....don’t say anything at all." I doubt there has ever been a mother or father that hasn’t said this about a thousand times to their children. In fact, I got a little video clip this past week in which a mom is teaching her child that exact thing.
(PLAY THUMPER VIDEO FROM YOU TUBE) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGt9jAkWie4
Learning how to manage the way we talk about others is a lesson we all need to learn early in life. But it’s a lesson that needs to be repeated over and over again as we grow because it seems that this is an area in which we all struggle from time to time. James is concerned about
What Are We Talking About?
What does slander mean? The dictionary defines it as: a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report. It is an attack on the reputation of someone by publishing falsely and maliciously things that slander and injure. It’s untrue statement which damages someone’s character. Slander is actually against in the law in our culture. Society recognizes that your reputation is your stock and trade. Ill. in the very early and founding years of New York, those who slandered or defamed another person were apprehended and the punishment was to pierce through their tongue with a hot iron and then banish them from New York. Now that would act as a deterrent -- maybe.
Most translations say something like "do not speak evil against one another" They are trying to translation the Greek word ¦Ê¦Á¦Ó¦Á¦Ë¦Á¦Ë¦Åw "to speak down" "to talk down" to speak against -- it has the idea of evil speaking -- in some places in the Bible it is translated "backbiting" it the picture of biting someone in the back and they are not able to defend themselves. It is speaking of someone in a way that lowers that person’s reputation in the eyes of others. This isn’t an evaluation of a person’s actions -- it’s a condemnation. It’s a verdict without a deliberation. It’s not evaluation -- it condemnation.
Now what I want us to understand right from the beginning is that this a heart issue -- slanderous speech is symptomatic of a deeper issue. In Matthew 12:34, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." what you speak in your mouth indicates your heart, a slanderous tongue, a habitually speaking evil of other people betrays an unchanged heart. Jesus once said, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander" (Matthew 15:19). Slander is viewed by Jesus as a serious sin. According to Jesus, the tongue is simply a neutral messenger boy that carries the words from the heart. It is the bucket that goes down to the well, dips into what is there and then dumps out of the mouth what it picks up. Slander is not just a sin of the tongue, but a sin that is deep in our hearts. -- So we need to keep that in mind as we explore this topic this morning. The end result cannot be a decision to control my tongue, right?