When we first become Christians, sometimes it’s easy to believe that since grace saves us, all that is required is that we believe. It’s easy for Satan to take that thought, and twist it into making us think we can live and act however we want, as long as we believe. That all the principals laid out in the New Testament, which is the covenant we are under since Christ died for our sins and rose again, are not something we need to worry about, because, after all, we are saved by grace. And yet, that grace also makes us a new creature. The things of this world should have no more hold over us. I heard a song once, and although I’ve forgotten most of the words, one line has stuck with me. The song was about a girl who had become a Christian, and she was no longer hanging out and doing the things she used to do. Her friends were trying to talk her into forgetting her faith, so she could do what she wanted. The line I have always remembered went “I can do what I want, it’s just my wants have been changed!” Like the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
1 Peter chapter 2 tells us we are strangers and aliens in this land now. That we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s own possession. We are told in this chapter to live carefully and properly among our unbelieving neighbors. We are told to get rid of all evil behavior and be done with all “deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy and all unkind speech.” Chapter 1 of 1 Peter tells us to “be holy, because I am holy.” Hebrews 12:14 says “work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.”
One way we can work towards holiness is to control our tongue. James 3:2 tells us that “if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” I think that is an amazing statement. Imagine, if we could finally learn to control the things we say, we could control ourselves in EVERY way!!
Ephesians 4:29 says “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Colossians 3 says that now that we have been raised to new life with Christ, we should “get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.” Later in this same chapter, we are told that “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves; you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each others fault, and forgive anyone who offends you.” Remember, this says make allowance for other people’s faults. It doesn’t say make sure other people are making allowances for YOURS! Control your tongue, and forgive other people if they don’t control theirs.
Remember always, we are God’s witnesses here on earth. Our speech will bring glory to God, or dishonor to God. A foul, hateful, unkind person will never convince anyone that being a Christian is anything to be desired. Indeed, a person like that cannot have the Holy Spirit living within him, because the Holy Spirit is pure. Everywhere we go, in everything we do, let our speech and actions show the love of Christ. There will never be a person who crosses our path who is not worthy of showing that love too. In fact, showing love in our speech and actions to the most unworthy of people is a true test of faith, and will win people to the Lord quicker than many other things we can do, because it’s times like that that will show the difference in us, and the hope we have within us. May we pass that test, because the fruits of the spirit are within us! (Galatians 5:22-23)
Proverbs has much to say about our speech:
Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble.
Proverbs 14:3A fool's talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.
Proverbs 20:19A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
Test yourself always. Make sure your words are always edifying. Do you know something about someone else that isn’t good? You don’t have to pass it. Do you suspect someone else is not doing right? Confront the person; don’t pass on your suspicions to people who have no business knowing. We are told in the Bible that to the pure, all things are pure, but to the corrupt, nothing is pure. Train your mind to always think the best FIRST. A passage of scripture to help you do this is Philippians 4:8 “Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure and lovely, and worthy of praise.”
Finally, remember these words from Matthew 12:35-37: “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this; you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you, or condemn you.”