I have been thinking a lot about speech lately as I watch a whole lot of people have a whole lot to say about the lives of others, themselves, and the world. Words are flying. Not many seem to be quiet. I think about my own speech as I am tempted to say a whole bunch of things as well. Even when I choose not to say them, I still know what my heart wanted to say.
When I look at verses about the tongue, I see conditions that determine whether we are qualified to speak. Sometimes we are not.
We are not qualified to speak if….
- our words will not benefit.
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:
- we are about to repeat a matter.
Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. Proverbs 26:20
- we are angry for wrong reasons.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)
- we are not going to be honest.
…keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Proverbs 34:13
- we are going to vent.
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. (Proverbs 29:11)
- we are going to be profane.
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8)
- we are about to crush someone’s spirit.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
- we haven’t considered our response.
The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. Proverbs 15:28
No wonder the bible says, Be quick to hear and slow to speak…. James 1:19
I want to end on this point, however.
What is it that determines whether we are able to speak to someone else about their sin?
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3
According to this verse, we are not qualified to speak if….
- We have a log in our eye.
What do commentators say this means?
Barnes’ Notes: The word used here signifies a large piece of squared timber…The meaning is, that “we are much more quick and acute to judge of small offences in others, than of much larger offences in ourselves.” HERE Most commentators agree with Barnes.
I fear most people apply this verse in this way: As long as we don’t have any of the sins society or the church calls “big” or we don’t have any sins that are “visible,” we feel qualified to speak to others about their issues.
I am not sure that is biblical application.
Did you ever get a small piece of dust in your eye? Life stops. It is impossible to do anything. Tears flow. Every blink is agony. Life stops until the dust is removed.
The piece of dust feels just like a beam, doesn’t it? Might as well be a log.
I wonder if according to this verse, we are not qualified to talk to others about their issues
- unless our hearts are squeaky clean,
as in dust-free, as in nothing that we know of is in the way of us living as cleanly with God and people as we know how to be! We are filled with His Spirit.
According to this verse, I don’t think we are qualified to speak…
- until we are living a life of consistent victory over sin in all areas of our lives, large and small, in His strength.
I am going to be quieter for a while. I have some work to do.
Picture Explanation: My daughter works all weekend but came to see me Friday to spend some time talking and strolling with me in God’s beauty to celebrate Mother’s Day. I have spoken to this sweet one too many times when I was not qualified to speak. Thankfully, she forgives me readily. Thankfully, I have consistently prayed over the years that God makes me a better mother every day that I live. I am growing, just like these blooms, looking more like Jesus every day. Lord, don’t stop transforming me! The quality of life for the people I love partly hinges on me.
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