“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:26-27).”
A religious broadcaster calls an earthquake in the poverty-stricken country of Haiti a “blessing in disguise” and discusses that in their history the people had made a “pact with the devil”. It doesn’t matter that these comments were made while a banner on the TV screen asked for support for the suffering people. He was pillaged in the media.
The U.S. Senate Majority Leader says that Barack Obama doesn’t have enough “Negro dialect”. The perception in the media and among his supporters is that because of his party affiliation he is supportive of the African-American community. So he generally gets a pass in the press.
It’s not fair, but Christians are held to a higher standard when they speak. But we’ve all done it. We’ve opened our mouths when we should have kept them shut, even when we were trying to be friendly or helpful. So before we jump all over public figures who do the same, we should look in the mirror.
The Bible doesn’t have very nice things to say about the impact of our loose talk. Consider the following passage:
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water (James 3:6-12).
What comes from the mouth is a product of the heart. The Scriptures tell us in Proverbs 15 that our mouths should commend and spread knowledge, not foolishess (vs. 2,7). Our words should also be appropriate to the context (v.23).
Like a lot of things related to Christian living, regulating what comes out of our mouths begins with our relationship with the Lord. Who are we to judge other people with our tongues? God tells us to begin with humility (v.33). He is the one who judges.
God is the judge, a righteous one. Unlike us, His judgments seem to be aimed at healing and helping, even in earthquakes (Psalm 75:1-3). So should ours. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b).”