Last week we talked about some the physical attributes about the tongue and then we spent most of our time looking at what the Bible says about the tongue. One of the main points from last week was whatever is on a persons heart will eventually make it way to the tongue hence the title of our lesson from the heart to the tongue. We looked at several ways the tongue could be used for evil or for good and in today’s lesson we are going to continue examining ways the tongue can be used and how we as Christians should be using our tongues.


Our first point this morning has to do with Critical words. This could include gripping and complain or always having negative to say about someone or something. I really believe that some Christians do not realize how critical they have become because they started out small until they have grown into the monster they are today. They have slowly conditioned themselves with critical thinking and critical words that they are just part of their everyday lives and they can not see what they have turned into. A great story that illustrates what I am talking about comes from a murder mystery.


There was a man who wanted to kill his wife but he wanted to do it in such away that he wouldn’t get caught. He, decided to poison his wife. Here what he did. For months he gave himself small doses of the poison so his body would be able to handle the poison without out killing him. Then he put poison in their food that night and he wife died while he suffered no ill effects because his body had built up a resistance to the poison. Now at first they ruled him out as suspect since he ate the same food but by the end of movie they finally figure what he did.


But the whole point is just as this man conditioned his body to get used to the poison we can do the same thing as we use poisonous words more and more each day. We become num to those things that we say or hear all the time. Many of us today are not shocked nor do we even pay that close attention to curse words that are said on TV or movies because everyday even in commercials now you will hear some sort of curse word and so we become use to them and we ignore them.


Thanks to these new reality shows many have discovered just how critical and grouchy they really are because they get to see themselves in action and they don’t like what they see. I have see some of these people call themselves monsters and they would began to break down and cry because for the first time they really get to see just how they really are toward others.


I promise one thing I don’t know of anyone that likes to be around a person very long that is full of criticism because is type of torture. If fact one person I read about said that continual criticism is like undergoing water torture where water is dropped on your forehead over and over again. Critical words can destroy relationships and can reek havoc on people self-esteem but the question becomes how can we recognize if we are being critical in our lives?  


Well, I will tell you it is not easy task but it can be done. It will take help from God, from you and from those around you. Notice what James says in,


James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.


Here is the best place to start. I believe that we should all pray for wisdom especially in the area of how we deal with people. We should ask God to open up our eyes to the way that treat others and that we use the right words instead of the wrong ones. We should be humble enough to ask God to help us recognize our weaknesses and to have the wisdom to make ourselves stronger in the areas.


Next I would suggest that we must be willing to test ourselves and try and view our behavior from another perspective. On any given day we need to make a conscience decision to evaluate what we are saying to other and then think hard if what we are saying is negative or positive. To the best of our ability we need to try and figure out the impact of our words or we might consider how we would take if someone used our exact words against us. If we really pay attention and evaluate how we using our tongue on any given day I think some of may be shocked at some of the things that we say and we must be willing to try and change and stop being so critical. Life is to short to live a life full of negativity.


Another tool we can use is our children because they are like little recorders and they will mimic you and say some of the same critical words to others. Watch you children’s word carefully and if you see a negative attitude or nothing but griping and complaining they probably learned it from you which means you need examine yourself closely. We need to remember what,


Ephesians 6:4  And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  


If we are constantly bashing our children with negative words and complaining then it going stir up anger in them and its going to be difficult for us to train in the way of the Lord. A good question to ask yourself, is am I criticizing my child more than I am encouraging them? We need to be careful of how we treat our children because if continue to criticize them all the time they will being the same way and they will most likely have a low self-esteem. It up to us to break the cycle that we learned from our parents or for someone else so that these critical words will stop at this generation.


Another tool that can be used to help us see the light in our critical behavior is by the help of our loved ones letting us know how critical we are being to others. A great example of this has to do with the children of Israel as they escaped from the Egyptian bondage. As soon as the Red Sea began to gripe and complain about everything and Moses even got to the point to where he prayed to God for him to take his life so that he wouldn’t have to listen to their complaining any more. Well, God stepped in several times and punished the children of Israel for criticism.

Now granted this was God that intervened and showed these people that they were griping and complaining to much but this same thing can be done today by us. When we see that our friend or our loved ones is being negative all the time it important that we talk to them and let them know how they are being or else they may never know. I can’t tell you how many times people who were critical never recognized they were being that way until someone told them and helped them see the light. Now that person may get mad at first but if they are Christian they should take your instruction to heart.


Proverbs 10:17 He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray.  


I also want to point out that there is good criticism and bad criticism. So far we have been focusing in on bad criticism and how it tear people down. But not lets talk about using the tongue for good constructive criticism.


Giving criticism is never easy because no matter how hard you try sometimes it may hurt the other person feelings. But we must understand that constructive criticism help us grow and become better than we were and talk more about how to receive criticism in a minute. But for now let talk about how we should give criticism. I found a couple of quotes that will help us.


“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots” (Frank A. Clark)


“Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet” (Chinese proverb).


The first thing I would suggest is that you learn not to criticize someone for everything they do wrong instead learn to pick your battles and just focus in on things that are really important. Now sometimes people will criticize others without having all the facts so we need to know the all that we can before we offer our criticism.


Another thing we can do is to learn from Jesus when he was speaking to the 7 churches in book of revelation. If there was something good about that church he started out with praise and then he tell them their fault and they need to make a change. Paul did the same thing when he went to Athens. Instead of jumping on their case about all the idols they had he found some good to talk about first and then he move on from there to tell them about God. In fact let look at those verses,


Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;  23 "for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:


So when you give criticism make sure you also include those that they are doing good that way they know that you are not just trying to belittle them.


Another thing we should avoid is absolutes when we give constructive criticism. In other words don’t say “you always” or “you never” do this or that. Statements like these are overstating the matter. It important that we learn new a better ways to give our criticism. We might do it the form in the question like,  what do think about doing this way? Or we might say something like, Now, I could be wrong, but from my experience this way or that way is a better way to do this.


Now lets talk about taking criticism. Please notice the following quote:


“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism” (Norman Vincent Peale).


Most of would rather not hear criticism but again we need to realize that it will benefit us and make us stronger and better. Let look at few ways that we should take criticism as Christian even if it is bad criticism.


The first thing we need to do is listen. We will never be able to find out if a person is offering us good or bad criticism unless we hear them out. The mistake that we make sometimes is jumping to conclusions and before the person can get the second sentence out of their mouth we go the defensive and we interrupt them and argue with them on their first sentence.


So its important that we take the time to consider what has been said as James says,


James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;  


Even when someone says something that doesn’t sound right there still may be some truth in it. Sometimes it will help if we restate what they said in our own words to see if that is what they are really saying.


We must also learn not to retaliate and sometime the best response to negative criticism is by saying I’m sorry you feel that way or as Jesus did many times silence is sometimes the best answer. Now if you are getting good advice we can thank that person for their thoughts and we should consider them to see if what the said will help us out or not.


I want to share with several verses from Proverbs that show the benefits of choosing your words wisely.


Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.


Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.


Proverbs 15:23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!


Proverbs 17:27 He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.  28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.


Based on these passages we learn that a few well spoken words are much better than overflowing mouth. A person that is just dieing to talk all the time will usually end up saying things are sharing things they wish they never had said so we must be careful that while our tongues are in drive that our brain is not in neutral. 


Now when someone sins against either by word or deed Jesus explains to us how we are to handle that situation in,


Matthew 18:15 " Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  16 "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'  17 "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.


If your brother or sister sins against with their tongue then Jesus says we are to first go to that person alone and try resolve the issue. However this does not always happen because some will take those sinful words and instead go tell everyone else about them without even trying to talk to the person who committed the sin. One wrong does not justify us to bypass Jesus’ way. So let always strive to go to that person first and if they will not listen then bring along a witness or two and if you still can’t resolve the issue then bring it before the church. This is proper way we should deal with a situation like this.


Our next point comes from,


Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.


For us to really appreciate what Paul is saying here we need to understand just how important salt was during the 1st century. It so highly valued that people would trade Gold for it the Roman soldiers of the day even received an allowance for salt money. According to one author the first trade routes between Egypt and Greece were built for the purpose of  transporting salt. As you can see salt highly valued and it has the following Characteristics:


Salt Saves. In the first century they didn’t have refrigerators so they used salt to preserve their meat and fish. So in similar manner we must learn to use our words wisely so that it might bring about salvation in someone’s life.


Salt flavors. Notice Job’s question in,


Job 6:6 Can flavorless food be eaten without salt?


This is one of the nice things about salt because if your food is bland you can add some salt to it to make it taste better. Again this same concept should be used in our speech. Our words should be wholesome and easy to swallow instead harsh or mean. Jesus warns about the danger of us losing our flavorful influence in,


Matthew 5:13 " You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.


Salt also cleanses as in the days of Elisha where he threw salt into the Jericho spring to cleanse it in 2 Kings 2:20-22. In a similar manner we are to make sure that our speech is clean and that we only speak those words which are befitting a child of God.


All of these thoughts show us a much deeper meaning of what Paul meant when he tells us to season our words with salt. Peter also tells us something similar in,


1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;


Notice our response to others is to be done with meekness and fear. If we can learn to season our words this way then we will have a much better chance of reaching those around us. There are many more things we could look at regarding the use of the tongue such as using encouraging words, teaching, or talking to the lost but our time is out for this morning and hope you have found this lesson helpful on using your tongue wisely instead of foolishly. I want to close my lesson with last humorous quote.


“The reason a dog has so many friends is because it wags it tail more than it does it tongue”