Have you ever wanted to cut out your tongue after saying something particularly hurtful to someone? Have you ever learned, after the fact, that what you said was hurtful? God knows about that problem. In James 3:6, He says “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…” Some folks have lived their lives being “sharp tongued.” Some have always be quick to speak and thoughtless about the consequences. When we live in the same place for years or attend the same congregation for years, people get to know us. If we frequently offend with the tongue, they get used to it (without necessarily liking it).
But what happens when a congregation begins to grow? New members from every walk of life and every conceivable background become part of our family. They become involved in the conversations taking place and often are the subject of conversations taking place. This is why the admonitions about the tongue are so important. This is a place where the tongue can kindle a great fire if we are not careful. This is when we might voice prejudices that are hurtful or express attitudes that are not Christ-like. Verbal offenses can abound if we are not careful.
The new converts, especially, are growing (sometimes faster than long time members). We all have “baggage” that comes with us. Let those of us who are mature in Christ treat real or perceived ‘issues’ with great acts of loving acceptance of the new family member. Erroneous understandings, moral dilemmas, improper speech, and long developed sinful practices and attitudes take time to change (consider some of us in the church for years).
May I encourage us all to follow the Bible admonitions? “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath:” (James 1:19). “If any man among you seem to be religious and briddleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Prov. 25:11).