Tongues of Fire

Do I have your attention? Do you think this article is going to be about speaking in tongues? Sorry, not going there. But I do want to address the issue of the power of the tongue when it is used for either edification or destruction within the church. As James said,

“The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)

I think it is pretty clear that when we gather corporately to worship and sing songs of praise, worship and adoration, it is a very beautiful and moving experience. Yet isn’t it something that with the same mouth which pours forth praise, comes malicious talk, gossip, and slander? Sometimes things that wound and destroy others lives are said with such ease; it is shocking. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10).

It is clear from the scriptures that God hates gossip. Check out the context in which gossip is included by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Rome: “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips…” (Romans 1:9).

If gossip is that powerful, that evil, that destructive, then it can have no place in the church. If it “corrupts the whole person” then it has to affect our worship. That said, it has been my experience all too often that we tolerate and allow gossip to go unchecked and undisciplined. When is the last time that you heard of someone in leadership being disciplined, or confronted for being a gossip? In my 43 years in the church I certainly have never seen a leader or pastor removed for gossiping like I have seen them removed for other sins; it appears as if we don’t take this as seriously as Scripture does.

Our praise has to go beyond singing songs: our worship needs to be expressed outside of our gatherings by freely blessing our brothers and sisters with words of encouragement. In other words, we need to stop bad mouthing other churches as well as each other. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:5).

Let our tongue be used for edification, not destruction; for worship not division; for a blessing, not a curse.
“The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Proverbs 18:21).