Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Your Tongue's On Fire!

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

(T)he tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

--St James

A couple of weeks ago I had a nightmare where I had discovered that someone whose respect and friendship meant the world to me had heard something about me that destroyed his trust in me.  It was one of those dreams where you wake up shaking and nauseated. For hours afterward, I had to keep telling myself it was just a dream. Ever since that night I have been thinking non-stop about the ability of our tongue’s to ruin lives.

By the time we are around 9 years old, we have all experienced the pain of discovering that someone we thought was our friend has been speaking ill of us, behind our backs. “She is such a baby.” “He is so arrogant.” “Did you know that she told me that she thought you were stupid?” The pain of those first experiences is world shattering and potentially life altering.

As we grow older, the stories take on greater sophistication and subtlety, as few people want to be known as gossips and backstabbers. “I’m really concerned about her marriage. I think she is hitting the bottle every night. We need to watch our for her.” In Christian circles, the added twist would be, “We need to pray for her.” Gossip baptized in a prayer request is okay, right? RIGHT?

I have seen businesses driven into bankruptcy by slander. I have witnessed first hand marriages sped along the path to divorce by “well-meaning” friends who thought it their duty to tell their friend about what “actually happened the other night with your spouse,” and then proceeded to tell a yarn they had heard second or third hand. I have repeatedly sought to help bring healing between friends whose bonds had been obliterated by a third party’s half-truths and false accusations.

Most all of us have seen the destructive nature of gossip, bearing false-witness, and slander. Many of us have been on the receiving end of such behavior, as well. It’s brutal, it’s deadly, and it’s morally reprehensible.

But I don’t want to talk about those gossips; I want to talk about you and me!

When out with the guys, have you ever noticed how many of the conversations are about someone who isn’t at the table? And what about those conversations around the office coffee pot where we all laughed at the idiocies of a co-worker … who wasn’t standing there? If we were the subject of the ridicule and later heard about the running commentary on our performance or personalities, how will we feel, what thoughts will explode in our brains? And what is going to happen to our relationships with these people? And what happens to my reputation of being a person of integrity in this person’s mind?

How many times have you begun a conversation with the line, “I don’t want to talk out of school…” and then proceeded to “talk out of school”?

How often do we report to others the unconfirmed tabloid accusations du jure as if they were unquestionably accurate?

And what about those times where, yes, we did tell “the truth” about someone but it was with the intent to harm, ridicule, or gloat?

In other words, how often do people do to us what we have done to others?

Gossip, bearing false-witness, and slander, are sparks from hell. We can’t control what others say, but we can resist hell-fire from bellowing out of our own mouths.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

1 comment:

  1. Right on Mont. It's a refreshing and accurate perspective of something that's so rampant.