It is Christmas soon and with it comes time with people we don’t always choose to spend our time with. Every family has that person; every circle of friends has that one: who rubs everyone’s hair up the wrong way.
It is easy during this time to land up in some “evil conversation.” Some of it is obviously evil and some of it is a bit more subtle like gossip, slander and “little white lies.” People even seem to approve of this type of conversation as they take part in it.
In the last week I have caught myself taking part in not one, but three of these little conversations and there is a certain amount of pleasure one receives as you position yourself as better than that person, and able to share a juicy little bit of news. But immediately God put His finger on my heart and had His own little conversation with me.
God has set up a standard for acceptable speech or conversation. Eph 4:29 in the Message:
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”
From the NIV: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Catch some of those phrases: “make every word a gift”; “unwholesome talk”; “only what is helpful for building others” and “benefit those that listen,” not even those you are actually talking to.
Jesus said not to be involved in evil conversation, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth, come from the heart, and they defile a man.” (Matt 15:18) He is warning against heart pollution and mouth pollution by the conversations we take part in. Rotten words indicate a spiritual heart condition which only Jesus can fix. (Rom 3:10-14; 21-22)
The standard is first set up in the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Ex 20:16) and is repeated elsewhere in scripture:
Prov 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Prov 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” God makes it clear in Prov 6:17,19 that He hates a “lying tongue” and “a false witness who speaks lies.” God’s words are always honest, truthful and dependable. The ninth commandment is all about controlling what we say about others, like the third commandment in controlling what we say about God.
Our words are to be helpful, not harmful. We are to choose our words carefully, because God knows every word we speak (Ps 139:4) and holds us accountable for what we say (Math 12:36 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”)
Good conversation has:
- No lying: no fabrication, exaggeration, perversion, omission or addition to truth.
- No Gossip: whether true or not that could possible harm another’s reputation.
- No Slander: speaking damaging words with intention of harming someone, “giving your mouth to evil” or “speaking against” someone, also known as backbiting.
So we are to:
- Pray for help: “Lord, set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3
- Stay close to God: God close to you will help you not disgrace yourself.
- Be determined to watch your mouth: “I will guard my ways least I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle…”
- Discourage evil speaking: Don’t tune in to it, and don’t approve of others that do.
Jesus always said exactly the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons to achieve that which was right.
Father forgive me for taking part in evil conversation that includes lying, gossip and slander. Forgive me that my words did not do good to others, but instead broke down and hurt others. Please help me Lord, guard my mouth. Make me more sensitive to the things I say and the conversation I take part in. Help me to recognise when conversation has no benefit to others. I choose to watch my words, to be silent rather than hurtful, up-building rather than evil and to make my words, a gift to others. In Jesus Name I pray.
More to read: