by: Myrna Folkert
Have you ever gossiped? I know I have. It’s easy to tell a friend a juicy detail that begins small and can grow out of control. James says “the tongue is a fire” that can corrupt a whole person and set the course of one’s life ablaze with destruction (James 3:6). James mentions many sins of the tongue such as slander, boasting, and quarreling. Speech that flows out of our mouths as praise to God one moment can mutate into gossip about someone the next. That’s how quickly our tongues can get us into trouble.
In contrast, the Holy Spirit’s power is like fresh water, which can extinguish those sparks of sinful speech before they turn our lives into raging forest fires. We need to submit to God to control these sins of the tongue. We can ask the Holy Spirit for his strength. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” James says, and the Lord will purify your heart (James 4:7-8).
Jesus said that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV). A leader recently asked people to imagine if what you say in private were read aloud by Jesus in front of your church. Ouch! Those strong, humbling words are important to remember. Yet if we wash our minds and hearts with the fresh Word of God, clean words can flow from our mouths to edify others.