Just one hour back, a friend of mine witnessed the most imposing act of love which is done in a way that many will call it an act of tyranny. But i guess the main problem is not in the act itself, but the way it was presented from the pulpit.

In fact, the elder James once said this

“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” – Elder James (Jas 3:2)

In fact, in the same book, Elder James exhort the Christians
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” –Elder James  (Jas 1:19)

In fact, Elder James compared the tongue to many interesting things that are small but have great effect, they are written in Jas 3:3-8. He compares them to the following

1. A bit that controls the direction of the horse
2. A rudder that controls the direction of the ship
3. A small fire that can set a great forest on fire 
4. An unruly evil, full of deadly poison

Everyone, especially church leaders, ought to be careful of what is spoken, for if the tongue is misused, one could quickly turn from a channel of blessings to the harbinger of woe and a weapon for the devil to bring harm to the flock of God. 

As I was thinking about this,  a few bible verses and bible stories was brought to my mind, and I would like to share them with you.  In all those stories, we can see how the mouth could have great effect.

The story of Gideon And The Men Of Ephraim  

“ A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
   In settings of silver.
   Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold
   Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.” – Solomon (Prov 25:11-12)

In Judges 6-8 records the story of the Midianites oppressing Israel. Then God choose Gideon to raise an army and fight against the oppressors. Before the battle started, Gideon gathered troops from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali.  (Jud 6:25) around 32 000 fighting men were gathered

But God only choose 300 out of 32000 fighting men to go with Gideon to battle, so that Israel cannot claimed that the victory is theirs (Jud 7:2)

Finally with a army of 300 men, God routed the armies of the Midianites. While the enemies fled, the tribes of Naphtali, Asher and Manasseh gave chased (Jud 7:23) thats when he sent messengers to the tribes of Ephraim to join in (Jud 24-25)

In fact the tribe of Ephraim did the best, they captured the 2 princes from Midian, but yet at Jud 8:1-3, they reprimanded Gideon for excluding them from the battle. If Gideon were to give in the wrath at that time, perhaps the tribes of Israel would have broken up into civil war.

Yet Gideon gave a very good reply,

“What have I done now in comparison with you?
   Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better
   than the vintage of Abiezer?
   
God has delivered into your hands the princes of
   Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. And what was I able to do 
   in comparison with you?” – Gideon (Jud 8:2-3)

Of course, Gideon can choose to continue defending himself and argue with the elder of Ephraim, but yet the words that he fitly chosen to speak allowed him to do more.

Jud 8:10-12 tells us that Gideon managed to continue to pursue the fleeing Midianites until he captured the two kings of the Midianites,  Zebah and Zalmunna.

The Story Of David, Nabal And Abigail

“ A soft answer turns away wrath,
   But a harsh word stirs up anger.
   The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
   But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” – Solomon (Prov 15:1-2)

1 Sam 25 records the story of David, Nabal and Abigail

Nabal was a rich man, he had 3000 sheep, 1000 goats. He was a descendent of Caleb, when David was fleeing from King Saul, his men dwell along side Nabal’s servant , in fact according to the testimony of the servants, David’s men protected the herdsmen of Nabal (1 Sam 25:14-16)

So David asked Nabal to provide something for his men to have a feast. Unfortunately, Nabal spoke harshly to them

He said

“ Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? 
   There are many servants nowadays who break
   away each one from his master.  Shall I then take
   my bread and my water and my meat that I 
   have killed for my shearers, and give it to men
   when I do not know where they are from?” – Nabal (1 Sam 25:10-11)

In fact, Nabal is more than capable to provide for David and his men, he could have done it out of compassion, moreover, his servant could testify the deeds of the warriors of David but yet he choose not to show compassion, instead he went one step beyond and ridiculed David, calling him a breakaway servant

When David heard these words, he was furious, the nice and friendly David was overtaken by his anger, and turn into a bloodthirsty and vengeful men. So he girded his sword and took 400 men with him, leaving 200 to defend his supplies (1 Sam 25:12-13)

This time, the servants of Nabal came to Abigail , the wife of Nabal, and hearing it, she quickly prepared food for David and his men (1 Sam 25:18-19) and sent her servants ahead to meet David . (1 Sam 25:18-19)

So when she met David, she gave a long defence for Nabal her husband (1 Sam 23:24-31) as it is long here are her main points

1. Do not regard Nabal as his name indicates that he is a fool (1 Sam 23:25)
2. It is her fault because she did not see the men from David (1 Sam 23:25)
3. God is trying to stop David from avenging himself (1 Sam 23:26)
4. Please forgive her and accept the gifts she had prepared (1 Sam 23:28)
5. Allow God to judge Nabal, according to what he had done (1 Sam 23:30)
5. David is the king of Israel, and he must not shed blood without clause (1 Sam 23:31)

Her beautiful words calmed down David, which averted the unnecessary bloodshed between David and the house of Nabal

Her words really came true as in the end it was God who judged Nabal and killed him, after the incident Abigail told Nabal what happened, and Nabal heart died within him, and he suffered for another 10 days before he died (1 Sam 23:36-38)

This story is a perfect example of the proverb by Solomon

Abigail’s soft answer turns away David Wraths while the harsh words of Nabal stirs out again. Indeed Abigail’s words is full of wisdom and she is well aware of the fact that God has chosen David king, while from the mouth of Nabal foolishness is seen.

What Should We Be Talking About?

“ A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,
   But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” – Solomon (Prov 15:4)

From the words of Solomon we can see that the tongues can do wonders, it can bring life to people as well as to break the spirit. So as conclusion, I would like to take from the new testament the thoughts of Jesus and the words of the apostles regarding speech. I feel that they are self explanatory. So here goes

“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Jesus (Lk 6:43-45)

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Jesus (Matt 12:36)

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” – Paul (Eph 4:29)

“Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” –Luke (Acts 14:3)

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” – Paul (Col 4:6)


The Conclusion Of The Matter

Finally, I wanted conclude the discussion with the words of Solomon as a conclusion

“ In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
   But he who restrains his lips is wise.
    The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
   The heart of the wicked is worth little.
    The lips of the righteous feed many,
   But fools die for lack of wisdom.” – Solomon (Prov 10:19-21)

May God help all of us in our quest to bridle our tongue.

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