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Love is Necessary
Paul spoke of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph.4:15). Has someone ever said to you, “I love you but…” and then proceeded to knock you into the ground with criticisms? Even if the truth is being spoken, the one who is not speaking in love is wrong! Someone could be quoting the very book of life and yet be speaking death because of pride and self-righteousness. I’ve heard preachers saying good things and scowling at the same time. There’s a place for righteous anger, but sometimes it comes off more in a spirit of hatred than of love.

“That’s right. I hate sin!” the scowlers will say. Well, I do to, but I don’t know anyone who repented by being Bible thumped. Stand for righteousness, yes, but let the Holy Spirit convict the sinner. I know a certain website that does nothing but blast all unrighteousness, in our culture and in the church. I would probably agree with most of the stands taken. Yet it’s all communicated in an alarmist and “you’re of the devil” tone. It’s angry, angry, angry, and my guess is that few people take it seriously. I myself used to laugh at the street preachers who ranted and raved and pointed the finger at those passing by. It wasn’t until someone showed concern for me, and was bold enough to tell me the truth in love, that I started listening.

God’s Agenda, Not Ours

Even speaking good things in a good tone can be dangerously wrong, if we’re not speaking in line with God’s will. Notice how Peter got in trouble when Jesus told him about his coming trials. Peter said, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee” (Matt. 16:22). There was the loyalty of a friend! There was the possible sound of relief in Jesus’ ear. It could’ve been tempting. Jesus could’ve enjoyed the thought of not having to go through with it. Peter would back Him up! Instead, Jesus rebuked Peter: “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men” (vs.23). Satan showed himself through Peter’s kind words! It goes to show that we ought to think before we speak. Are we speaking words of faith? Are we speaking in line with God’s agenda?

Many husbands know what it’s like to think they are speaking something good, only to find that their wives have taken offense! Lots of problems could be avoided by simply holding the tongue and thinking about the outcome your words might have. “Whoso keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (Prov. 21:23).

In fact, if you want to improve your relationships, any relationships, I recommend what I call the Eggshell Method of Communication. Just walk on eggshells! We do that with strangers, don’t we? We want to give our best impression, so we speak very carefully. We care so much what a stranger might think, and then we get home and let all cares to the wind. We just say whatever we feel like because we’re family. This is wrong. We should be more concerned about how we treat our family members than how we treat strangers.

A man will walk on eggshells, holding his tongue in order to win the heart of a lady. He doesn’t want to say anything that might put her off. He looks for all the right things to say, hoping to win her heart. She does the same. But then when they get married, that goes out the door! Do you want to restore your marriage? Start walking on eggshells again. Not in nervousness and fear, but in the same effort you made when you first met. Make your agenda to win the other’s heart again. Speak only that which edifies. Do not render evil for evil or railing for railing (1 Peter 3:9).

Be Wise
It’s possible to speak death by simply speaking too much. Remember that “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Prov.10:19 NKJV) While we’re at it, “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” (Prov.29:11) No one likes to be cornered by a talker. All they do is talk and never let you get a word in edgewise! Healthy communication involves a give and take. Healthy wisdom involves being slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). What part will you play? The fool or the wise?

When Isaiah was confronted with a vision of the Lord in all of His holiness, he responded by saying, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). Why did he reference his lips? Why didn’t he just say, “I am unclean”? Because in the light of God’s holiness, the lips reveal just how far short we fall. We use our lips to make us look good when we’re not. We use our lips and speak as if we’re gods. We use our lips to accomplish our purposes and not God’s. We use our lips to speak ill of others or to cut down. In the light of God’s holiness, even the good that we speak falls short of His glory.

Isaiah realized this and considered himself doomed. If we would stop and consider what our lips were producing, we might also begin to feel convicted. But something wonderful happened to Isaiah: “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (vs.6-7). The mercy of God came through and redeemed him. It started on his lips, but it purged away all sin!

It also begins on our lips. If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9). Redemption brings a different sound from your mouth. Therefore, when you speak, speak that which is in line with who you are in Christ. Speak as one whose sin has been taken away, and speak life.

Praise God that there’s grace, and when we fail there’s no condemnation. We just turn and get back on track. Just remember that you carry awesome power. Use it for good and not evil. And I say this in all love,

Watch your mouth!

Copyright © Rick Bell
All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Rick Bell
Web site: Rick Bell
Rick is a writer, speaker, teacher, and minister who has lived and served overseas since 1995. In late 2013, he moved back to America, but continues to travel and work with pastors and leaders across the world. His passion is to build others up with the life-changing truths of God’s grace and love.

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