“You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of a neighbor: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:16)
The story is told a woman who complained to a Puritan minister about the clerical bands he wore with his pulpit gown. Saying that they annoyed her greatly because they were too long, she then asked his permission to shorten them. The aged saint quietly acquiesced and handed her the offending bands. Armed with her scissors, the woman shortened the bands according to her tastes and then handed the fragments back to the minister. Unruffled, he thanked her and said, “Now, my good woman, there is something about you that is altogether too long that has annoyed me greatly. And since one good turn deserves another, I would like permission to shorten it.” “Certainly,” she said, “you have my permission and here are the scissors.” Whereupon the wise minister said, “Very well, madam, put out your tongue!”
Now, we can all read the above illustration, chuckle, stroke our chin in thought or even ignore its lesson, but the fact remains we’ve all know people like this woman, haven’t we? What kind of people? People whose tongues needed trimming!
This group of folks might include a neighbor, a relative, a co-worker, perhaps a friend, and maybe even a brother/sister in Christ!
The fact is, if each of us is really honest, the majority of us are forced to admit that our own tongues have probably needed trimming from time to time. I recognize there are those among us who seem to never say anything ugly or unkind to anyone and we would pray that their tribe would increase!
Children often have paper dolls or figures to play with … they cut them out of an activity book or punch them out along the perforated lines … and then they begin to snip, snip, snip away until the figure loses its identity and on the table or the floor lie the pieces of the once recognizable image.
Why is it that we are so quick to share bad news … some trouble in a family or a person’s life when they are already hurting and feeling the pain of heartache? Why do we feel the need to tarnish the image of someone else? Does it make us look a little better? Does it bring someone else down to where we have been while in pain?
It’s really hard to get one’s hands around the “why” of the above mentioned situations, but what isn’t hard to get one’s hands around is that this kind of behavior is not like Jesus Christ in any way, shape or form!
The wise man Solomon penned the following words that are just as true and accurate as they were when put to paper, “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.” (Proverbs 18:8)
Just in case we would miss the meaning of this passage, the inspired writer is telling us that the victim, yes, the victim becomes a wounded person! The Bible simply has too much to say about the use of our tongues, words and speech for us not to exercise more care!
Friends, brethren and all who read these words: can we not do a better job of managing our thoughts, words and deeds! The world already has enough trouble, meanness and hostility. There is no place for any of these unfavorable and unchristian attributes! We can all do better!
“The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning; He awakens my ear to hear as the learned.” (Isaiah 50:4)
Bill Fairchild, Jr.