The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 67

“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" (Ephesians 4:29, emphasis mine).

If we are to take the Holy Spirit seriously, then we are to take the writings of Scripture seriously too, because they were written under His inspiration and guidance.

Paul's prohibition against speech that tears down is absolute. Christians are not to leave room for any gossip or criticism, or any other form of unwholesome speech. The word 'unwholesome' covers any type of speech that tends to tear down another person, whether spoken to or about that person. On the contrary, Christians are to always speak in a manner that builds another up. Only honest criticism given from a heart of love in a spirit of humility qualifies as speech which 'builds up another'.

This does not mean that the gross sins of society should not be a cause for concern enough to speak out or stand against openly. But it does mean that we must not become so preoccupied with the sins of others that we ignore the needs in our own lives. Let me explain. We must be careful not to become confident in our own performance-based righteousness. You see, it is so easy for us to become Christian Pharisees. For example, we can begin looking around us at the more gross and flagrant forms of sin in society, and because we are not guilty of them, feel rather good about our Christian lives. We do not commit adultery or abortion or indulge in sexual immorality; we know all the right doctrines, and may even be committed to Christian ministry. Remember the Pharisee / Tax Collector parable that Jesus spoke? The point of the parable was that the Tax Collector, unlike the Pharisee, didn't compare himself with respect to other people. He was concerned with how he measured up before a Holy God. So it should be with us.

I identify with the Apostle Paul when he said of himself that he was 'the chief sinner'. Which one of us does not frequently offend with his speech? I know that I do! You see, the problem is not so much with controlling my tongue. The real problem lies with my heart, because the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart (cf. Matt. 12:34). If adultery and robbery and abortion (the more 'serious sins') are unacceptable in the life of a believer, then gossip and slander and resentment and bitterness (the seemingly more 'acceptable' and commonplace sins) should likewise be unacceptable in my life. Does this strike a chord with you too?

Here is a simple truth: God regards all sin seriously! But he will help us overcome.

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues