“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Of course you will have tea with others, but if you are feeling hurt, then you must be careful how you speak. As one Bible teacher said, “A wrong reaction is just as bad as a wrong action.” The psalmist David wrote, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”(Psalm 141:3) This is a good prayer for all of us. There is “good talk” and there is “bad talk.” Good talk is when we share our problem so we can get wisdom and help. Bad talk is when we vent our anger and try to get others to take our side. Many evil deeds can be birthed from bad talk, including revenge and even murder. That is why we are warned in Proverbs 10:19, “When there are many words, sins is unavoidable but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Here is a true story that will help us see the meaning in this proverb.
Gossip Poisons the Tea
There was a woman in a local church who gossiped to everyone. Her mouth had the strength of a fog horn. Her phone was always busy as she dialed to talk to one church member after another. Everything she covered, from troubles with the choir, to problems with pastor and elders, and others in the church family. Even with small matters she would call a friend and complain, “I don’t think the snacks are very good after the service. The quality has gone down. Maybe money is being used elsewhere when it should be spent on better foods for the good people of the church.” There were many other things this woman told, and it created a lot of division.
The woman talked like this for some years. One day, Jesus convicted her that all this unfruitful talk of spreading rumors and gossiping was sin. Her heart was so bothered that she went to the pastor and said, “I am very sorry since I have caused a lot of trouble in our church because of my mouth.” The pastor said, “I forgive you, but would you come out on the balcony with me?” Under his arm the pastor carried a pillow stuffed with bird feathers. Once they got to the second floor railing, the pastor grabbed the edge of the pillow and ripped it open, and the wind took hundreds of feathers all through the streets. Then the pastor said, “I forgive you for all the careless words you have spread but would you please go out now and gather up all these feathers?”
Of course, that was impossible and the pastor’s point was that forgiveness covers the sin, but cannot retrieve all the damage that’s been spread. In this way, we need to be careful how we use our mouth, especially when we are offended or hurt. If we are not careful, then we can spread destruction to many others. Is this what we want? That is why we are told in Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” With our tongue we can bring blessing or curses. There can be wounding or healing, good or evil, and the choice is ours. As one Bible teacher wrote, “The power of the tongue is also frightening because we cannot control it. There is only one safe course: to yield the tongue to God through the Holy Spirit and ask Him to control it for us.”
“…no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” -James 3:8-10
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” -Proverbs 18:21