READ: Numbers 28-30, Psalm 50, Luke 6, 1 Corinthians 6
WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION
“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”(Luke 6:45). And often the missionary mouth speaks scathing destruction. Attila the Hun was wimpy compared to what issues from Christian mouths. Our little tongues set all kinds of forests on fire – and we do it so sweetly. Psalm 50 reveals that four different misuses of the tongue disqualify us from the primary purpose of our tongues, which is declaring the statutes of the Lord (Ps. 50:16): (1) When we give our mouth to evil (v. 19) and (2) our tongues to deceit (v. 19), (3) speak against our brother (v. 20), and (4) slander our mother’s son (v. 20).
Christ followers can be some of the best liars with their exaggerations and subtle shading of the truth, which place them in a better light. Disciples can be the most competitive, vindictive, slanderous, and gossipy of all God’s verbal creations – and feel the best about it. The danger for the proclaimer is the unrighteous use of the tongue. A mouth framed for the glory of God can also (so subtly) be used to carve up brothers and sisters.
Words that destroy, especially words that destroy brothers and sisters, the innocent, and the vulnerable, are nothing like God. We think He is altogether like us (50:21), when He is altogether different in His life-giving words. Our destructive words (from our deceptively destructive hearts) are the opposite of God – they are evil. The opposite of evil words? Praise. “Whoever offers praise glorifies me,” God says (50:23). Praise of God and the encouragement of others is the opposite of tongue death – it is mouth to life resuscitation.
It is precisely because words are so powerful, and such a priority means of communication, that they are so dangerous. The gospel is communicated by preaching, for this is how faith comes. Faith does not come by doing – not according the Scriptures. Faith does not even come by loving – not according to the Scriptures. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Hypocritical words are so heinous and empty words so vain precisely because anointed words have the power to change lives.
The antidote to evil words is not action without explanation — it is the foolishness of preaching that brings life. There is a clear biblical priority on the proclamation of the gospel, and for this reason the devil goes to great lengths to discredit all proclaimers. The goal of the enemy is not really to kill us, it is to silence us – for in silencing us he aims to render God mute. When we live unrighteously, we do the devil’s work for him and silence our selves. Words intended to bring life deafen the hearer, damage the speaker, and discredit the Giver.