Conviction for gossiping and my tongue by the Holy Spirit seems to be regular for me. We are instead to be encouragers like Barnabas. This issue of the tongue is a common and very ugly sin for many people. Now I will venture into the shark-infested waters of relatives. And one of the more hurtful I hear is “She/he is so fat” or how about “she’s so ugly.” I may be ranting here, but I often hear these thoughts. I am not sure what causes it. My wife believes it is self-centeredness. As well it seems it might be an adolescent heart. I believe it is a caution to look within our self and ask, “How selfish am I?”
I struggle with criticizing as well. I am reminded of Paul’s admonition to the Romans “As much as it depends upon you, be at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Perhaps the colloquial phrase for this includes “If you don’t have something good to say about someone, don’t say anything (keep your mouth shut).” James is very clear on the subject speaking of tongues “See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6). We might ask James, what does he really think? Yet, sadly there is great truth to this confrontation of my defiling speech. This issue is clearly on the Holy Spirit’s short list of reminders for me. How about you?
In Proverbs 6 Solomon speaks of what God hates, including a lying tongue and false witness against another while sowing discord. A sign of meekness on the other hand is a gentle and humble spirit. “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But wisdom from above is first pure, then, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:16-17). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and we do grow so slowly wise.
I believe God is clear in guidance on speech. It would also seem He wants us to talk with others if they are sinning (1 John 5:16), but without judging. “Let your speech always be (full of) with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). Salt is healing and preserving. Our speech should always be toward making better relationships. However, sometimes the other person does not take it well regardless of how you try. Therefore grace and forgiveness are always keys to our continuing relationships. Be honest, not always like Billy Krystal saying, “You look marvelous” unless of course you do.