Speaking the Truth in Love and Taming Our Tongues

A close-knit church community is a wonderful blessing, especially in times of trial; but it can also be a hotbed for chatter about the name of others, resulting in bitter division between brothers and sisters in Christ without them ever speaking to one another.

“That I do not judge, nor join in condemning any man rashly, or unheard.” Such would be “a proper work of the devil” and would “bring down upon me the heavy wrath of God.”

And yet, all too frequently when we get together, we find ourselves talking about others. When it is trivial information (about dating, pregnancy, marriage, moving house), we discuss it that way, as trivia, in a mild and disinterested way. But, when it begins to involve what we might judge as “sin” or, in the case of a minister, “false doctrine” or “error,” suddenly the interest is piqued, the conversation becomes intense, and names are thrown around, judged, labeled and condemned… rashly and unheard.

And because the “sin” or “error” is so serious, we think the way of Matthew 18 does not apply. After all, this is public knowledge.

Not just minister’s names. It starts with what we say about the name of any brother or sister in Christ. This is a very real danger in a close-knit church community—what James calls “wars and fighting among you” (James 4:1), or what Paul speaks of this way: “ye bite and devour one another” with the warning, “take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15).

Whereas Jesus, speaking from the perspective of seeking peace and preserving love between believers (read I Cor. 13:4-7), says, “go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone” (Matt. 18:15).

Would we bring down upon ourselves “the heavy wrath of God?” Have we already done this?

Biblical and doctrinal truth is important, but so is the truth about the name, honor, and character of the neighbor, especially when that neighbor is a fellow member of the body of Christ, and even more especially, when that neighbor holds office in the church of Christ.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We do well to watch our words with these three questions concerning what we would say about another.

1. Is it true? Do I know it is true, or is it something I have just heard through the ‘grapevine’? Isn’t this the source of so many destructive and divisive rumors? Someone who does not know and who should not be involved, starts talking. Does what I say reflect that God is a God of truth?

2. Is it necessary? It may be true, but does it need to be said? Will my words be useful, edifying, beneficial to the one whose name I raise? Too often our words are not only a waste of breath but would be better not said.

3. Is it loving? Am I speaking about this person because I love him and in love for him? Do I speak to protect his name and reputation or to damage it? This question really gets to the heart of the ninth commandment. We must “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

If we would run our words through the screening process of those three questions, so much destruction of names and division between believers could be deterred. “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Prov. 26:20).

May-15-2020-SB-coverTaken from Rev. Rodney Kleyn’s article in the May 15, 2020 issue of the Standard Bearer. Titled “Taming the tongue,” it is an exposition of the ninth commandment (“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”) as explained by the Heidelberg Catechism in Lord’s Day 43 (Q&A 112).

This issue is still available free on theRFPA website. Lots of edifying reading here!

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://cjts3rs.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/speaking-the-truth-in-love-and-taming-our-tongues/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: