Tongues Tales And Tattlers
By Timothy Binion
The Bible describes the tongues as either a tree of life or the root of evil. We need to be aware and understand the power of the tongue. We must assume responsibility for its misuse. For life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). The Bible describes the tongue as a sharp razor, an unruly evil, a wild animal, full of deadly poison, a miniature world of iniquity, and a fire that can burn down a forest. If we understand the true nature of the tongue as described in the Bible, it may prevent dissimilation between friends, families and fellowships.
The amazement lies in the diminutive. Small usually means modest or frail but the tongue has the power to destroy the whole body (James 3:6). Who would expect something so scrawny to have such strength? The tongue has been the effectiveness of scandal, strife and suspicions. It is the instrument used to seduce, slander and sully. Realizing the turbulence that the tongue can cause, we should resolve to “keep our tongues from evil and our lips from guile” (Psalms 34:13 emphasis added). The tongue can perform profanity, promote promiscuity and polarize progress. The slightest movement of this small object can sever the relationship between spouses, siblings and saints. When Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech, David wrote: “Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.” The wounds inflicted by a sharp tongue seldom heal and always leave a scar.
There are two examples given in James chapter 3 regarding the tongue being a small thing that can bring astronomical results. The first illustration is found in verse 3 where it is written: “Behold, we put bits in the horses mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.” The point is that a half inch piece of leather can control the direction of an animal of great power and strength. The second case in point is found in verse 4 where it is written: “Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.” Here again we are instructed to behold and see a massive vessel with the energy of the wind controlled and guided by a small rudder. The Bible says “Even so the tongue”. It is this little muscle that can control and affect the lives of thousands. It was the voice of evil seducers that caused the legalization of abortion. America (a nation) has been thrown out of balance with our own Constitution by the deceitful tongue. It was the eloquent tongue of Hitler that generated the Holocaust. The words of an angry crowd crying out “Crucify Him” that persuaded Pilate to crucify the Lord. It was the subtle speech of a serpent that beguiled Eve that resulted in the depravity of the entire race. “See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze” (James 3:5 Amplified Bible).
“The Tongue is a fire.” With every book of matches comes the responsibility of their use. Fire prevention depends primarily upon being conscientious. It is the fire breathing babbler with his reckless speech that can cause an enormous amount of damage. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin; but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). Everyone has a self-contained flame thrower “being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna)” (James 3:6 Amplified Bible). If one is not careful he may feed the fire of an arsonist by repeating something heard that is not true. The Bible adage is “against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19). The tongue is a world of iniquity in itself that can destroy the whole body and set on fire the course of nature. God is saying to every tongue toting person that when you open your mouth control your tongue. The Christian mind should sound a siren, flashing lights should go off, and a loud voice from the area of the brain that contains some Bible knowledge, announcing a warning: “caution highly flammable.”
Have you ever heard something about someone that you just could not divorce from your mind. Every time someone mentions this person’s name or you see them you think of what you heard. You may not even know if it is true but the story seemed possible so you just take it as factual. “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (Proverbs 18:8). What is a talebearer? Talebearing is the act of spreading stories officiously: communication of secrets maliciously. A tale is a narrative of events that have really happened or are imagined to have happened. These short stories may be true or fictitious. The Bible defines the talebearer as one that “revealeth secrets” (Proverbs 20:19). A talebearer generally becomes a prevaricator. Little consideration is given to the truthfulness of events since it is a juicy story and can stir up the stink. Talebearers thrive on revealing the matter and are unfaithful. “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter” (Proverbs 11:13). There are things that happen in the life of the Church and individuals that should not be repeated. There are things that are just none of our business. Talebearers are the reason that Churches and Associations are not harmonious and there is discord among the brethern. The friction feeding the fire of conflict and contention is caused by the tantalizing talebearer. For it is written: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Proverbs 26:20).
The tattler closely resembles the talebearer in the area of gossip or idle speech. The Bible acclaimed snitch of the Old Testament was a man named Balaam. Space does not permit a full exegesis of Balaam’s prophecies nor his character, however the point in question is clear. When the King of Moab saw what Israel had done to the Amorites he was sore afraid. He realized Israel’s God (YAHWEH) was their source of strength and sent for Balaam, who was a prophet of the same God (YAHWEH), to curse Israel. Balaam had a true knowledge of God and was a prophet of YAHWEH. Instead of cursing Israel he could only bless them (Numbers 22-24). Balaam was not allowed to use his spiritual gift to make money this time, but informed the King that he could get to Israel by driving a wedge between them and their God. The counsel of Balaam was to send in evil women to seduce the men of Israel, tempt them through their lust and get them to bow down to idols. “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord” (Numbers 31:16). This was a sin against knowledge.
Unfocused energy or having nothing better to do than to go around talking about people is condemned in the scriptures. The Church is scripturally prevented from providing a living for young widows because there would be energy with no outlet. Young widows are instructed to remarry and have children to prevent idleness and tattling. “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Timothy 5:13,14). If you have time to speak reproachfully the Bible antidote is, “Get a life”.
The things that can promote the most good seem to be the things that can promote the most evil. So it is with the tongue. “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We need to become a sound board of the saviour’s sayings and tell the story of Jesus and his love. Here is a true saying worthy of repeating, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). How often have we been injured by unjudicious answers? “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). If we are offering a sacrifice of praise to God continually as taught in Hebrews 13:15 we will not offend in word and become a perfect (complete) Christian. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (James 3:10). If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.