Are You Sensitive to Three Sins of Speech


Are You Sensitive
to Three Sins of Speech?

Richard Hollerman

One of the longest sections on the sins of the tongue is found at James 3:1-13.  James tells us that “the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (3:6).  He goes on to charge, “No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (v. 8).  The Christian’s speech definitely is a concern and he should be careful about what he says, how he says it, and when he speaks.

If the speech is such a troublesome aspect in life—for both the unbeliever as well as the follower of Jesus—what can we do to make sure our speech is pleasing to God?  How do we conquer our tongue, with God’s grace and by His power?  Let’s briefly look at three areas of concern.  I realize that there are many more problems related to our speech, and we should look at these at another time.  But the three aspects are good places to begin.

     1.    Beware of speaking too much.

The book of Proverbs has much counsel concerning our speech.  Take the time to read through this practical book to discover the many ways that the gift of speech can be use as well as abused.  One of the wise sayings can be put this way:

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,

But he who restrains his lips is wise (10:19).


Since it is so easy to fall into sinful speech patterns, we must be careful about speaking too much.  If one talks on and on, surely eventually the speaker will fall into some negative speaking, slander, gossip, or just useless speech.  Again, the writer of Proverbs says, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles” (21:23).  Don’t speak too much if you want to avoid sinful speech.


     2.    Beware of speaking without thinking.


Another wise saying in Proverbs gives this counsel:


Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?

There is more hope for a fool than for him.


Hasty words, words that are spoken without thinking, can be detrimental to our speech.  Do you think about what you are going to say before you say them?  Another proverb adds to this point: “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things” (15:28).  Do we “ponder” and think about how we should answer another person—or do we say something and then later regret our indiscretions?  James tells us, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (1:19).  Let us be “slow to speak,” for hasty speech often causes us to say things that we wish we had not said.


     3.    Beware of speaking without proper motives.

God is not merely interested in what we say and how we say it, He is also interested in why we say what we say.  He is interested in our motives—and He will bring even our motives into judgment (1 Corinthians 4:5).  Our speech must be with grace and wisdom (Colossians 4:6), with patience and gentleness (2 Timothy 2:24-25).  We must not deceive (or actually lie) (Mark 7:22-23; Revelation 21:8).  Careless or useless words are not appropriate (Matthew 12:36-37).  Neither are slander, bitter speech, and anger (Ephesians 4:31).  Even when one’s words are true and good, the heart may be evil and this corrupts the entire process of speech and communication.  Guard your heart and make sure your heart is pure and holy; this will then be manifested in how you speak to others (Matthew 12:34-37).

The Gift of Speech

We earlier made reference to speech as a “gift” from God.  God is Creator and He has chosen to give us the ability to communicate.  Far from the evolutionist’s imaginative recreation of “early man’s” grunts and growls as he learns to speak, the creationist who believes the Bible knows that from the very beginning of creation, God’s creatures could speak (cf. Genesis 2:16-17, 23).  The question is: “How do we use our speech?  Do we use it like everyone else in the world or does our speech reflect the fact that we belong to God and seek to please Him in the way we talk?”

Be careful of speaking too much.  Be careful about speaking hastily, without thinking.  Beware of any wrongful attitudes and motives as you speak.  Let us speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).




Comments are closed.