Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Sitting in the pews of Hopewell Baptist Church in Napa, California is a newly saved young woman and mom. For the first time she is attending a Ladies’ Conference and is in awe of the excitement and fun that could be had at church. She is surrounded by other women from all over the nation. It occurs to her that this conference and church must be something very special for others to travel so far to attend. Women are running around dressed in funny costumes, skits are hilarious, the singing is great and women are happy everywhere. In addition to all of these events, the assistant pastor is dressed up in a Buzz Lightyear costume and is flying down from the back of the auditorium on a rope towards the front while women are throwing bagels at him. The young woman is soaking it all in and is really growing in the Lord, this is just the encouragement she needs.
Soon after, the skits are complete and it is time to sit and listen to the Word of God taught. A woman, probably in her sixties, stands and walks onto the platform and up to the podium. She is smiling and full of life. She is funny and catches the attention of the whole audience. This gentlewoman is so easy to listen to and as an onlooker, the young woman in the audience is mesmerized.
At this moment, the charming speaker introduces to the congregation a skull and an apple. Of course, everyone is curious as to what she will do with these objects. The speaker, peering through the glasses on her face, reads from the Bible, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” This gentlewoman is the renowned author, public speaker, and godly Christian woman, Marlene Evans. Mrs. Evans taught the excited group of ladies about the importance of choosing your words carefully. The young mom in the congregation absorbed all of this special lesson because she realized that as a new Christian, this was an area that she needed help.
Mrs. Evans held up the red and delicious apple and explained to each of the attendees about how the words we speak to others can give life. She then held up the lifeless and frightening skull and illustrated how words spoken can also bring death to someone. Mrs. Evans spoke about the different things that are said and the various ways that we can hurt or help others with our speech such as, gossip, unkind speech, lying, gracious words, compliments, and encouraging words. The newly saved mom was captivated and has never forgotten this powerful lesson.
Today, I want to share with you from Mrs. Evans book, Relationships Without Regrets, her lesson, Beware of Gossip. Although I do not know of any instances of this in my church and perhaps you do not know of any in your church or otherwise. Gossip is a real problem, whether in the workplace, at home, in the family or at church, it is destroying those around us. I hope that this will be a preventative maintenance lesson on how to spot, correct or avoid the death that gossip can bring into each of our lives. Gossip often comes from a hurt, angry, and bitter person who has not learned to pour out their heart to God and instead poisons the minds and lives of those around them because it relieves the pain that they feel inside. Unfortunately, this person does not take into factor the death that they are causing in the listener’s life. On the other hand, just as Proverbs states, “and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” There are those who love to listen to and join in with the gossip because they receive fulfilment within their flesh to hear the latest news or join in the criticism, be careful of this as well.
So, what are we to beware of when it comes to gossip?
1. Anyone who wants to get you alone for a little talk as soon as they see you.How many times have you seen
two women whispering together? It is often not due to a personal matter, but a poisonous conversation of gossip. Of course, there are times when others are trying not to be a disturbance, but beware of a whispering tongue.
2. Anyone who never seems to know about the good things that have been happening.
3. The person who often starts out with an innocent sounding question such as, “What do you think about__________ (a person in trouble)?” It is someone they are waiting to discuss.
4. The person that doesn’t seem to want to hear you tell about a big day in Sunday School, a good Christian book just published, or someone getting saved or any good report.
5. Anyone that good doesn’t seem to faze, because it seems as if their minds are so focused on the bad that they don’t even hear the good.
6. The person who seems to shrug off the good and go right back to the rundown of the bad.
7. The person who desperately wants to be understood and yet show very little understanding of those who supposedly disappointed them, there is a lack of grace and mercy.
8. The individual who seems to know the bad about a person almost before it happens and spends a great deal of
time spreading the bad to those they know want to receive the information. We should call this “network” gossip; they call it “being aware”.
9. In the Christian world, these folks tend to dwell on two or three Christian leaders who seem to have fallen
and a couple of sensational divorces, seldom mentioning the hundreds of fine Christian leaders and marriages they know. Isn’t this where we get our Soap Operas and reality television from, man’s desire to be a busy body?
We will find people like this everywhere or perhaps we are this person. Let me encourage you to pray over this and check your own heart. How are you doing, is there an area in your speech that could spread more life? Well, you may ask, “What are some words of life that I could give?” Ephesians 4:29-32 states, “ Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Ask yourself these questions, does my speech or that which I listen to:
1. Corrupt myself or others? Or does it edify and encourage?
2. Is it graceful or courteous? Is it kind despite the others’ worthiness?
3. If the Holy Spirit was standing nearby, would it grieve Him?
4. Was the purpose of the speech a result of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil, or malice?
5. Was the speech an outcome of an unforgiving spirit to the purpose of hurting another or selfishly making
yourself look better?
6. Was your speech kind and tenderhearted (taking others’ feelings into factor)?
7. Is your speech manifesting the love and forgiveness of Christ?
No one likes to hang around a negative or gossiping individual and eventually she will lose friends if she chooses not to change. Most importantly she forfeits that close relationship with Christ.
As the mom in our story looks back at her life, she observes the areas that she has struggled with when choosing her words. She has disappointed many around her, most importantly, her Lord and Savior. When she failed in her speech, she tried to make the situation right and just like Proverbs 24:16 states, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” She would get back up and try again.
If you are like the young mom today in our story, who struggles with choosing her words correctly, you can have victory. Sometimes, victory is not winning the war as a whole, but winning the battle for that day. Choose today that you will not be a part of gossip and spreading death, but instead you will separate yourself and share words of life.
& One Day at a Time Devotional,
a ministry of Riverview Baptist Church