One of my favourite preachers, Dr. Juanita Bynum, who has impacted my life greatly once said, “As Christians, we have been marked to follow the rules”. I heard this statement this year and it took me back to my early days as a baby Christian when my pastor would always preach about standing strong and firm in our calling as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He would shout from deep within him as many Pentecostal preachers do: “Others may but you can’t because of destiny”.
This has stayed with me all my life and it has become like an acid litmus test for me when I want to say or do things. Sometimes, due to the sin nature in man, I override that voice but at the end of it all, I would know I was in the wrong place, doing or saying the wrong things, making wrong and bad decisions.
Now, we are continuing on our theme that worship is lifestyle and not a slow song we sing in church. We have looked at obedience and submission to God’s will being the core of our worship to God. Let’s look at other aspects of our daily walk – The Tongue. Oh yes, the very one we speak we speak with. The bible tells us in James 3: 8, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (NIV). Ouch! “These are very harsh words. Unruly? Deadly Poison? Wow!” I often tell myself but as I meditate on this further, I see why.
It shows the extent to which the tongue can wreak havoc in our lives if not managed. Now my experience with this has been all my life. There are many angles to look at the tongue from – the faith confession, speaking, enforcing, creating, and decreeing, as an instrument and a work of faith. Then there is the angle of the tongue that needs refraining, restraining, resisting, being mute, keeping it shut. Keeping away from the spirit of gossip. This is our context for today.
Let’s pause here and take a snap shot of a common scenario:
For some reason, you are yoked with a group of friends or a friend that constantly has some news about people, situations, even organizations (never positive by the way). You realize as time passes, whenever you are around these persons or person your tongue is ‘loose’. You don’t like it, you know it’s wrong and robbing you of your peace and spiritual equilibrium. You promise yourself to restrain from the gist, not adding to or providing some rational analysis (this was my own strategy) yet each time you encounter these personalities, you would break your promise so fast. The gist was either ‘too sweet’ or ‘delicious’ to not pass on or you believed your opinion or analysis was needed. So you still added to the gossip! Well, guess what? Solomon did tell us that this is the case –
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” (Proverbs 26:22, NIV)
Another version says, “The words of gossips are like choice snacks; they go down to the inmost parts.” (CEB)
Solomon pre-warned us that gossip or the words of a gossip are ‘sweet’; they are like a delicacy (morsels are seafood that you will rarely see on a seafood platter in a restaurant) like desserts, choice snacks. So it is hard to pass and once you engage in it, is very difficult to purge. Why? Because it absorbs itself into your system into the ‘innermost parts’. The tongue indeed is an unruly evil and once it sets in motion, truly cannot be tamed.
So what do we do? What did I do when I struggled with this spirit in my life?
As usual, I will make it practical. Here are my own lessons –
- I was driven by my motivation to please God because I love Him. I use my tongue consciously for God’s glory. See, the thing is I love God, I really do. I acknowledge this unashamedly… He is my all in all. I really want to please him with my life, and it hurts me bad when I hurt Him and disappoint Him. I do not want be unfaithful to Him or His personal expectations of me.
- I made a conscious effort and surrendered this struggle to the Holy Spirit. I asked Him to always make a way of escape for me when confronted with this, and He usually did. I received help from the Helper of all …to flee the scene of the crime.
- If I had to stick with it and face the situation, I’d ask God for wisdom, and I’d turn the discussion around, deflecting the topic to talk about ‘me’ and lessons I learnt from similar situations to the topic at hand. So instead of gossiping about another, we’d end up sharing experiences. This has been a powerful tool for me till date.
- Whatever I say, I try to build up and not tear down both in terms of the topic or person at hand and the lives of the gossips as well.
- I tell myself constantly, “Others may do this but I can’t because I have been marked, set apart, consecrated to be an example of a believer and be the light of the world both in the big and small, both on a worship platform/pulpit and in my daily life.”
- Finally, if the propagators of the gossip refuse to change their posture of gossip and professions of slander, I very tactically excuse myself from the discussion and explain that I did not feel I should be commenting on the lives of others. At that point I know I have to find me some new company of friends. Lol!
It is hard work, its deliberate, it’s intentional and above all it’s doable.
If you want it bad, if you want to cleanse your speech and keep your words seasoned with salt, the Holy Spirit is there to help purge and re-shape your conversation life. There are some spiritual laws and this is one of them loaded with destiny-impacting consequences. Watch this space to see how….
Remember in the words of Matthew, ”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6, NIV)
Written by Bee
Be Your Best Self for God series