THE TONGUE (4)

 

Brethren and Sisters, Murmuring next comes before our attention. It is very natural to complain, find fault, and be dissatisfied like spoiled children whenever things are not just exactly as we think we would like them to be. But do we realise that we are speaking against the love and providence of Yahweh as given through the Elohim?

Even small and passing annoyances and dissatisfactions are manifestations of carnal thinking and possible evidence of a lack of any real faith, for the promise is, Rom. 8:28:

“ALL things work together for good to them that love Yahweh.”

Either we believe that FULLY, or we do not believe it at all. There is no middle ground. How beautifully Job expresses the attitude of the spiritual mind in Job 2:10:

“Shall we receive good at the hand of Elohim and shall we not receive evil?”

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!”

We may feel that we could rise to this height in some great disaster, but often a more searching test of our character comes in the little daily disappointments that catch us off guard in our natural state when we are not pumped up for a great and showy display of patient resignation.

But let us remember, that for murmuring under trials far heavier than we have to face, Israel, Paul tells us, were “destroyed of the destroyer,” and this, he says, was an example for us. Therefore, let us:

“Do ALL things without murmurings” (Phil. 2:14).
 

Isaiah 29:13 expresses a complaint Yahweh had against Israel:

“This people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me.”

 

We must question ourselves as to whether it also applies to us:

Lip service! Is our heart and mind always fully with our lips in all our praise, in all our singing of hymns, attending of meetings, breaking of bread and doing of daily readings? Do we understand what we sing? There are hymns that claim that Yahweh has “delayed” the return of The Lord Jesus Christ which is blatantly untrue as it is He, and He alone who will determine when that will happen, should we therefore sing them? If our minds tend to wander, then it is only an offensive mechanical lip service that we are offering to the Great Creator upon whom we depend for every breath.

It is so fatally easy to slip into this, especially in matters like meetings and hymn singing, which sometimes seem to have the character of repetition and familiarity.

Yahweh’s mercies were seen in Lam. 3:23 with marvel and awe, as “new every morning”, by the prophet Jeremiah, even in the midst of his Lamentations about the destruction of his people and desolation of the land.

We must perceive the mercy of the Creator with the same continual freshness and vividness and give all our heart and soul to His service, or we, too, shall fall into the rut of lip service.

The only way to keep our minds from wandering to other interests is not to have any other interests, to shun everything that does not properly fit into that pattern.

Harsh words call for special mention, not necessarily angry words, but just habitually, often thoughtlessly harsh words. The flesh is a harsh, coarse, irritable thing. Graciousness and gentleness do not come naturally. They are spiritual qualities, as shown by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us not make the sad mistake of thinking that contending for the Truth, or the proper raising of children, call for harsh words at any time. Gentle words can do the job much better, much more impressively, much more lastingly, much more lovingly (in a Spiritual sense) and with much deeper and sweeter results in the recipient.

In both fields, discipline is often required to maintain faithfulness, but harsh words are no fitting part of it. Harsh words are ALWAYS an ugly manifestation of our own inner flesh: we must face this fact if we hope for healthy results.

It is particularly on occasions requiring discipline that solemn, gentle, well weighted, Christ like, impressive, Spirit-guided words are so essential. Harshness can only shrivel and blight, and breed harshness in return.

The true meekness and gentleness of The Lord Jesus Christ must be consistent on all occasions if it is to be part of our real character and not a cloak of convenience.

Ecclesiastes 10:12 impresses upon us that “The words of a wise man’s mouth are grace”.

True, our Lord, as the mouthpiece of his Father, spoke scathing words of judgment that were Spirit-inspired, but we are not called to be so used and so inspired, and the pattern laid down for us is clear:

“Meekness toward all” . . . “Speak evil of none.”
 

We are to expose the whole, dark, worldwide fabric of sin and error in clear and unreserved terms, by the searching light of the Spirit Word, and we are to keep carefully separate from it all, in faithfulness to divine command, but always in gentleness and mercy and hope, for who are we to pronounce another’s judgment?

We have considered the many warnings and instructions concerning the spoken and written word (for the instructions apply equally to both). Let us in closing glance at its powers and benefits and beauties.

First, we think of the Word of Yahweh:

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word.”

Psalm 33:6 “By the Word of Yahweh were the heavens made.”

And by that Word the gracious, glorious message of life and hope came to perishing man.

And in the fullness of times the Word was made flesh. All that marvellous message and purpose was focused in the Son of Yahweh:

“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (Jno. 1:14).
 

And when he began his ministry of love and sacrifice among men, those who heard him:

“… Wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth” (Lk. 4:22).
 

Paul in his epistle to the Colossians in the exhortation of Chapter 4 in verse 5 tells us that we should let our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that we may know how we ought to answer every man. That means Brethren and Sisters that our speech must be a preservative, it must be the Truth and it must have the other qualities of salt, it must permeate and pervade throughout the body of the Ecclesia, and being the Truth, our words are like another of salt’s qualities, it is essential to life.

We are also blessed with speech in that it allows us to praise and glorify our Loving Heavenly Father, as did the Psalmists of old. There are many examples such as:

Psalm 95:1-3
O come, let us sing unto Yahweh: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 
3 For Yahweh is a great Ail, and a great King above all Elohim.

The prophets also wrote inspired praises to their Deity, as shown by that beautiful chapter in Isaiah 12 where he glorifies Yahweh for the many mercies shown to the faithful. We occasionally sing it through the words of Anthem 47, where verse 6 of Isaiah 12 is combined with the thoughts Psalm 48.

The Word of Yahweh is our great treasure—able to make us wise unto salvation, 2 Tim. 3:15.

Counsel concerning preserving its integrity is solemn and frequent:

“Hold fast the form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13).
 
“To the law and to the testimony, if any speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20)
 

In 1 Peter 4:11 Peter guides us with the instruction, “If any man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of Yahweh.”

What a vast range of good is in the power of the tongue!

Toward Yahweh; praise, worship, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, entreaty.

Toward man; preaching, teaching, exhorting, comforting, encouraging, warning, and rebuke:

“The lips of the righteous feed many” Prov. 10:21.
 
“The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life.”

“Death, and life, are in the power of the tongue.”
 

As we weekly partake of the emblems of he who had no guile in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22), let us then, with firm determination, make the words of the Psalmist our own:

“I am purposed that my mouth should not transgress . . .-
“I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue . . .”
“I will keep my mouth with a bridle…”
“Set a watch, O Yahweh, before my mouth … keep the door of my lips.”

Even so; come Lord Jesus!

Colin Tilley-Evans
 
(Concluded)