As we continue our journey through Psalm 15, today we will focus on verse 3. Please read that now.
As children, we were taught “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Oh, the naivete of children!
A far more accurate truth would be that written by the great preacher, Charles Spurgeon: “Some tongues bite more than teeth. The tongue is not steel, but it cuts, and its wounds are hard to heal.” Anyone who has been bitten by the evil words of another knows the truth of this statement.
Our tongues can cause a great deal of damage. That’s why James said, “the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness,” and “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:6, 8). Many churches have been set aflame by the wildfires of a few untamed tongues!
David makes it clear that a person with such an untamed tongue, who backbites, speaks evil, and takes up a reproach will not dwell on God’s holy hill. Instead, those who speak evil, gossip, slander, and “all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is in the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
David rightly points out that such wicked tongues often do not discriminate. You may think it understandable for someone to speak evil against their enemies, to curse those who have cursed them, to speak lies about someone who has lied about them. Maybe you’ve even said such things yourself! But, once someone untames the tongue, and lets it loose on his enemies, his tongue will soon run wild and will also speak evil against his neighbor and take up a reproach against his friend. Once the backbiting starts, it can only end in violence. This is why we must always be cautious about the words that come out of our mouths.
But how do we guard our tongues? Jesus said “out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). It is not enough to try to guard our tongues. When we pledge to stop cursing or gossiping, or telling lies by the sheer strength of our own will, we will often fail. This is because we are treating the symptoms but not the problem.
When someone tells a lie, it is a heart problem. When someone gossips, it is a heart problem. When someone curses, mocks, slanders, or reproaches their friend, it is a heart problem. We cannot guard our tongues until we first have a change of heart.
When Jesus comes into our life, He gives us a new heart. When we focus our hearts on Him, our mouths will follow. As we meditate on His Word, we will find that His Word comes out of our mouths. As we commune with Him in prayer, we will find that concern for others, empathy, encouragement, and loving words come out of our mouths. As we meditate on our sin, His sacrifice and our forgiveness, we become more sympathetic for the struggles of others, and find that our mouths refuse to gossip, slander, or reproach others because our hearts understand how much more we are worthy of reproach.
Therefore, the one who slanders with his tongue, does evil to his neighbor, or takes up a reproach against his friend will not find himself dwelling on God’s holy hill. Not because he is a slanderer, evildoer, or evil speaker, but because his heart has not been changed through surrender to Jesus Christ.
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