Speak No Evil
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Have you ever seen the Hollywood classic movie, Gone with the Wind? It is an epic drama set during the Civil War era. I remember watching it on TV one day and being struck with the fact that Melanie, Ashley Wilkes’ wife, never once said an unkind word concerning the mean, selfish, conniving, immature Scarlett O’Hara … even though Scarlett was in love with her husband and would do anything to break them up so she could get her man. Melanie was far too kind and gracious to speak evil of the evil Scarlett. While Scarlett continually spoke rotten, evil words of anyone and everyone, Melanie continually practiced Ephesians 4:29.
How about you? Are you more like Scarlett or Melanie? Do you let your mouth loose in evil, or do you keep a guard on your tongue? Do you speak words over your life, your family, your employer, your country and your church that build up and encourage … or do you speak words that tear down and destroy? Do you choose to see the best in people and situations … or do you choose to see the worst and offer up your negative, cutting comments?
Sometimes we forget that God hears everything that comes out of our mouths (Psalm 94:8-10). He is not pleased when we speak words that tear down what He wants to build up. In fact, the Lord says, “Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile” (1 Peter 3:10).
In Matthew 12, Jesus uttered these sobering words to the mean-spirited, self-righteous people of His day:
You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It's your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation. (Matthew 12:34-37 The Message)
Let me encourage you (as I encourage myself) to think before you speak. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I speaking words that build up or tear down?
- Is God pleased with the words coming out of my mouth?
- Do my words glorify the King who died to save me?
- Am I repeating rotten things that I don’t even know are true?
- Am I speaking words of faith or words of doubt?
- Do the words that come out of my mouth sound more like Scarlett or more like Melanie?
Remember, your words reveal your heart. So ask God to show you what is in your heart (Psalm 139:23-24). If rottenness, wickedness, bitterness and faithlessness are there, confess it and ask Him to cleanse you and remove all the dross, all the sin. He wants to use us and bless us, but He cannot if we are determined to use our tongues to destroy.
Take God at His word! If you truly want to love life and see good days, keep your tongue from evil.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.