THINK – Before You Speak
A young man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, “Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!”
“You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?”
“Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.”
She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a loony lame-brained lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.”
He noticed the manager gesturing, and turns around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half.”
How often are we like that young man who talked behind that woman’s back without realizing that he was getting into trouble? We let our tongues speak any and everything that comes to our mind without using discretion. But do we realize that our words can either deeply hurt people or bring healing and hope.
The Bible talks a lot about the tongue; there is power of life and death in the tongue. The apostle James explains the power of the tongue and its use and abuse in James chapter three.
(1) My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
(2) For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
(3) Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
(4) Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
(5) Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
Here James talks about the power of the tongue.
I. The Power of the tongue
James opens up this chapter with a warning and explains the awesome responsibility of those who are leaders and teachers of God’s word in the Church. In the early Churches, these men and women were held in high esteem because they were teaching God’s word. But unfortunately there were certain false teachers and abusive leaders who were teaching false doctrines and were misleading people. James was up against such people. He used three powerful yet familiar analogies to convey how a small part in our body called the tongue could have devastating effects not only on an individual, but particularly on the body of Christ.
He used, “A rudder, a bit, and a spark of fire”
A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A word, a sentence or a phrase can change the course of a man; and often, the course of a nation.
A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything, or destroy it.
And it only takes a small spark to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, and throw mud on a reputation.
What was James saying here? Is he saying that our bodies are controlled by our tongue?
Not necessarily, as we know our bodies are controlled by our mind, however, the words we speak can have a deeper impact than we realize.
The uncontrolled tongue is destructive, especially when one is a leader.
James warns us not to be in a rush to become a teacher of God’s word because teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards.
If we pray like David prayed we keep our selves from a lot of trouble,
(Psa 39:1) … I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.
In the bible we can find various tongues mentioned, both the evil and good ones. Today we are going to study three types of evil tongues.
A. The Lying Tongue
Lying seems to be a way of life for many people. We lie at the drop of a hat.
The book “The Day America Told the Truth” says that:
91 percent of those surveyed lie routinely about matters they consider trivial.
36 percent lie about important matters
86 percent lie regularly to parents
75 percent to friends
73 percent to siblings
69 percent to spouses.
What do we lie about? Basically, everything. We lie about big things, but most often, it’s little things,.
But, there is no such thing as a white lie or a black lie, any lie is a lie.
The Bible is very clear about how God views lies:
(Exo 20:16) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
(Jer 9:5) And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
(Psa 109:2) For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
(16) These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
(17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
It is for our good that God warns us against lies
(11) Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
(12) What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
(13) Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
(Rev 21:8) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
How serious do we take God’s hatred of lying lips?
B. The Harsh (Crude/ blunt/sharp) Tongue
Ever have someone say: “I’m going to be blunt with you”?
For some, it’s is a normal way of life and they don’t realize how harmful and damaging those words can be.
Some often make rude comments to keep people at arms lengths in order to protect their own insecurity.
It’s often not so much what you say that hurts a person, but it is how you say it.
The Bible denounces harshness and promotes gentleness.
(Pro 15:1) A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
Is there a place for them in this world? The world often despises gentle and meek people thinking that they are weak. In fact meekness is not a weakness; it is a sign of great strength.
Jesus showed us an example of what a gentle leadership style would look like:
(Mat 11:29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Christ didn’t come with an army of angels to beat people into submission, but rather he came with kind and gentle words.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ said:
(Mat 5:5) Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
(Mat 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
When it comes to speaking, “Make your words sweet, because you may have to eat them”.
C. The Gossiping Tongue
Some of the greatest role models in life have been people who exemplified integrity not so much in what they said, but in what they did not say.
These are people who simply refuse to speak negative about others even if they have been hurt or misunderstood by them.
They talk to someone but not about someone.
How comfortable are we talking behind peoples back with an intention of damaging that person’s reputation?
We say things like, “Now, this is between you and me,” “I didn’t tell this to any body else” “This is a top secret”, and the favorite “Did you hear about..”.
We even spiritualize it and say “Let’s pray for Mary, she did something really stupid and got herself into one big mess but I can’t give you and details, so just pray for her.” You say that and people will make up their own details.
If you are given to gossip, watch out, It doesn’t please God.
The Bible warns us to avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
(2Ti 2:16) But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
(1Ti 5:13) 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.
And this was an old problem. Solomon had warned about this in:
(Pro 20:19) He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
There is a warning for both older men and the women in the body of Christ regarding gossip
(10) And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
(11) Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
(2) That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
(3) The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
When you speak, build UP, don’t tear Down.
III. “THINK” before you speak.
Ever watch a little kid get excited and try to say something? The mouth speaketh before the brain gets engaged.
Sometimes the same thing happens to us. We speak before we think.
To keep from having the problems we just spoke about, we need to learn to “THINK before we speak”
T–Is it true?
Do you know what you are about to say to be true, or is what you are telling “hear-say”? Most of us in here has played the game of passing the story. The end is never what started. And the same thing happens in life. Hear-say is not allowed in a court of law and it’s definitely not allowed in the court of God.
H–Is it helpful?
What’s the motive of what you are going to say? Is it to be a genuine help or to be critical and cynical? Is what you are saying intended to kick a person when they are down or lift them up? As we go through life, we all need helpful and encouraging words.
I–Is it inspiring?
Will your words lift a person up, or are they critical and derogatory? Will they have a positive influence? We live in a negative world, often with little or no inspiration. Good can always be found in any situation.
N–Is it necessary?
Something’s are just best “unsaid”. Again you need to ask, what is my motive? What purpose will this serve? Why am I saying this? Is what I’m saying going to “stir up the pot”, or make peace?
K–Is it kind?
Is what you are going to say kind or hurtful? Would you want someone to say the same thing to you. What is your tone of voice? How were your actions? Not only must we be careful of what we say, but also how we say it.
Just think what kind of world we would have if everyone (us included) would THINK before they speak. And that world can start with you. THINK before you speak!