One thing that I have learnt over the years and continue to learn is the danger of sin when too many words are spoken. On several occasions, I have said things (or even printed words or allowed them to be printed) without giving proper thought as to whether they were admirable or praiseworthy. On some occasions, they ended up giving offence, even when no offence was intended. The words of Proverbs 10:19 spring to mind, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” James also gives us a timely warning, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (Jms 1:19-20).
The reality is, that sometimes, some things just don’t need to be said. The words may be true and correct, but they still may not need to be said. If words spoken or even written are not admirable or praiseworthy, then they should not be spoken or published. Paul writes in Eph 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I suggest the same rule applies when we publish written material. Paul goes on to say in the very next verse, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
So, should we ever speak the truth or admonish one another? Yes, but we need to do it in love. Paul encourages us to speak the truth in love in Eph 4:15. So, yes, we need to speak the truth, but we need to do it love for only then will they be admirable and praiseworthy. However, if love is missing from our spoken words or written material, then sin will be present and we will be grieving the Holy Spirit within us. No wonder James warns that not many of us should presume to be teachers because those who teach will be judged more strictly (Jms 3:1). Scary!
Perhaps we can learn best from the Chief Shepherd himself who when finally arrested, was mocked, beaten, spat upon and hung on the cross to die like a criminal when it was his right to reign as King. The Prophet Isaiah writes, “…he did not open his mouth; … he did not open his mouth (Isa 53:7) … nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Isa 53:9). On the contrary, Jesus, prayed to His Father to forgive those who had committed this terrible act for they did not know what they were doing (Lk 23:34). Now, that’s a pretty good example to follow. JZ