Summary: Examines the negative aspects of speech, and how to overcome them.
TAMING THE WIND
For several years, when I was very young, our family lived in Palatka, Florida. During the time we lived there, the place that stands out most in my mind is the home my parents had on 10 acres, out in the country. Our family of 4 at the time, lived in a single-wide, 2 bedroom 1 bath trailer. And let me tell you, in those days they weren’t mobile homes. They weren’t manufactured homes. They were trailers. We had 2 bedrooms for the 4 of us. Dusty and I shared a room. As a matter of fact, we shared a bed.
We didn’t have much, but we did have 10 cleared acres of land, with a giant ditch running through the middle of it. For two little boys, it was a great place to live. I have memories of chickens, and dogs, cows, pigs, and horses. We used to have 2 junk cars at the end of the pasture, like country folk often do. Dusty and I used to work on those cars when we were 5 and 6. Didn’t know much about working on cars, but we did know how to put water in the batteries, because we had seen Daddy do that, so when we worked on the cars we would take old Coke bottles down filled with water, to put water in those batteries.
Have many memories of the years we spent there. One memory that stands out from those days was when Daddy used to burn off the grass in the pasture in the Spring, to help it grow and to help kill the weeds. They didn’t let us get too close, but you could sure see those mice running across the field trying to get away from the flames.
One time, when Daddy was burning some trash in a barrel out back, a wind came up and set the field on fire by accident. By the time we spotted it, the fire was out of control. Neighbors from down the road came with their teenage sons, and with their help, some shovels and blankets soaked with water from the ditch, they finally got the fire under control. There was a lot burned that night and it was a frightening time. All that, caused by a spark from a barrel.
James says in James 3:5 … Though the tongue is a small part, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. (HCSB)
We have often heard children say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This week in my quiet time, of all the passages and verses I read, the one that stuck with me throughout the week was one that runs counter to that. The verse is in Proverbs. Proverbs 25:15. Turn with me to that verse please.
Proverbs 25:15 A ruler can be persuaded through patience, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. A gentle tongue can break a bone. That runs against what popular culture says.
This morning, and next week as well, I would like to examine with you, especially from the book of Proverbs, the power of the tongue, the power of speech. This morning, we will emphasize the negative aspects of the tongue. We will look at how you and I can hurt, and maim, and tear people down with the things we say. Next week we will look at how you and I can use our tongues to build up and to help others.
Now, looking through the book of Proverbs, I find 6 damaging ways you and I can use our tongues or our speech.
I. DAMAGING WAYS SPEECH IS USED
1. Flattering –
> Proverbs 28:23 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue.
What is flattering. Flattering, especially the type condemned in Proverbs, is excessive praise and insincere compliments given in order to gain favor with another person. You and I probably would probably think of it as sucking up.
My friend, the Bible condemns dishonest flattering. It is dishonest to build up another person so you can gain an advantage over them, or so you can gain favor with them. Yes, encourage people. Build them up. But be honest about it.
2. Gossip – Listen to the writer in Proverbs 16:27-28
Gossip is derogatory stuff you say about other people, for no good purpose. Now we Christians often dress up by saying we are “sharing a prayer request,” but it amounts to the same thing.
Tom recently told me a story about a man who went to a priest and confessed that the Lord had recently convicted him of gossip. He wanted to know what he could do to make it right. The priest told him to go to the top of a mountain, rip open a feather pillow, turn the feathers loose in the wind, and then come back the next day. So the man did like he was told. He went to the top of a mountain, tore open a feather pillow, and scattered the feathers to the wind. The next day he went back to the priest and asked what he was to do next. The priest told him to go back and collect all of the feathers. The man complained that it would be impossible to collect all of those feathers. They were scattered everywhere. That, my friend, was the point. Once you begin to gossip, the words to spread scatter to the wind and can never be retrieved. You don’t know where they are going to go, where they will land, or whom they will hurt.