Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tongue Taming

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21

As I serve in ministry in the church and share with others outside the church the most common complaint against the church, the most ready reason for not attending or getting involved in church, and the most heralded hurt that happens in the church, seems to be rooted in words. 

The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
Proverbs 18:8

Whether it be gossip or just others using their words as a weapon or even worse taking God's Word and twisting it and using it as a weapon to hurt another person. This weapon is to be used to defeat the spiritual forces of darkness it is not to be unsheathed to defeat and destroy man or as an attempt to beat someone down. The Word is to be used in love not in spite and not in a spirit of superiority.

How long will you torment me
And crush me with words?
Job 19:2

We ladies have been given the stereotype of "gossipers", yet please know that I am well aware that men are just as gossipy. Male and female, we need to watch what we say and we also need to be careful what and who we choose to listen to...even if, no especially if, we personally know we don't believe a word they say... 

An evildoer listens to wicked lips;
A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
Proverbs 17:4

This is the way of the world...

...we live in a day of hearsay, when few people pass along information that is precise and reliable. Do you? Are you careful about what you say? Do you have the facts? Do you offer proof that the information you are conveying is correct? While there are occasions when it's appropriate to pass along needed and serious information to the right sources, there's a growing preoccupation with rumor and slander. Half truths and innuendos become juicy morsels in the mouths of unreliable gossips. There is no way to measure the number of people who have been hurt by rumor, exaggeration, and hearsay.
Perhaps you have suffered this yourself.
Be careful what you say. Be careful how you say it. Be careful that you send the right message, that you send it to the right person, and that you do so with the right motive. ~ Swindoll

My husband and I have often discussed that one of the hardest parts of parenting is teaching our children how to discern between "need shared information" and "tattle-telling". We have tried to teach them when and as the opportunity arises because we just have not discovered another way to get the point across.

One thing we do is ask them to seek out the reason they are sharing the information they are sharing.

Is it just to get someone caught and in trouble?
Is this something that will hurt this person if not shared?
Is this something that the person asked you not to share?
And if they did why and would you want them to share this on you?
And if you are sharing it, why are you sharing it?
Is it just to show what you know about them?
Or is it because you know they need help concerning what they shared and you know you can't help?
Are you sharing up or side to side?

We try to teach them that there will be times in their own lives that they will want someone to keep a secret for them. There are times when we can address an issue with an individual and correct them and keep it all between them and us. And if they are truly sharing to help someone, they will share up, not side to side. Which means they will share with someone who has the power to help not just another "friend" who can do nothing.

We try to teach our girls that they need to be each others best friends not each others worst enemies. An enemy seeks to get you caught, a friend seeks to help you out of the trap. An enemy wants to throw you in the fire, while a friend seeks to snatch you from the fire. An enemy will reveal your secret to hurt you, yet a friend only reveals when they realize it is the only way they can get help.

There is a time to keep a secret.
I love what Swindoll says in the following quote,

There is an unexplainable air of mystery about a woman, an unpredictability that men find intriguing. Esther's ability to restrain herself only heightens the mystery---especially her verbal restraint. She knew much more than she told. She could keep a secret. Verbal restraint is fast becoming a forgotten virtue. ~ Swindoll

A woman who can control her tongue is indeed a woman of virtue.
Ladies are you a friend who can keep a secret?
Can you be trusted with the hurts and failures and frustrations of another without passing judgment or without fueling a fire?
Are you still stuck in the toddler/child cycle of the tattle-tale?
Can someone come to you and share their hurts or are you the one that causes others to cringe because they know you just saw them fail, falter, or stumble?
Can you correct, rebuke, exhort, and keep it between you and them?
Or do you always feel the need to share what you saw, what you did, what you know?

Learn to keep confidences. Come to be known for keeping secrets! It's part of having character marked by strength and dignity. ~ Swindoll

Taming the tongue...

A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 15:4

She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:26

But it's more than just speaking in truth and with kindness, it's also knowing when not to speak.
I read a quote somewhere that said something like, "never miss a good opportunity to shut up".

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
Proverbs 10:19

The damage that has been done in and outside of the church, in families, in friendships, in workplaces, and even in our nation, over hear-say and over sharing information that needed not be shared... oh my it's massive.

O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
Proverbs 15:2-3

I know the hurt of words well...
I imagine most of us do.
May we learn from our own hurts and make the choice to not use our own words to hurt another the way we have been hurt ourselves.

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