Guarding Our Tongue

Perhaps more than anything else the Bible warns us to control our tongues. Solomon, who was blessed with great measures of wisdom, tells us “Whoso keepeth his mouth and tongue keepeth his soul from troubles,” (Proverbs 21:22-24). How do we keep our mouth and tongue so we do not fall into trouble? Do we hide it and conceal it behind our lips as to prevent ever making offense?

Foolish it would be if we never used the gift of speech that God has given us. We most certainly must be a good steward of the ability to speak. I Peter 4:10-11 instructs us that every man that receives the ability to minister and speak must use that gift, so God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.

How must we use this gift of speaking to glorify God? We must use our tongue as the lame beggar who went walking, and leaping, and praising God as a witness to all those who were around Him and were astounded by His ability to walk. We must use our tongue, even in the simplest things, to be a witness of the truth. If we fail to tell the truth when we are asked something as meaningless as how tall we are then how can we expect to be able to hold to the truth of God’s word which is offensive to many? There is also according to Ecclesiastes 3:7 “a time to keep silence.” As young people it is especially important to have this time of silence and listen to the wisdom of our parents, grandparents, and others who have wisdom from age and experience that we lack. It is also important that we use our tongue to communicate with others and God. It is essential that we communicate with God because our life in prayer is a reflection of our spiritual life.

God instructs us also that the tongue is as a devouring fire (Isaiah 30:27). Certainly, we must be careful in the use of this devouring fire. There is that use of the tongue as a fire which burns down others so we commit the sin of murder towards them and fail to be edifying in our communication. There are also many curse and swear words that, to the world, have become normal expressions. Many will say, “I know that my friends are not offended and I do not mean these words to be wickedness.” Perhaps our friends are fine with us saying things and maybe we are somewhat innocent in our use of such words, but is it acceptable before God? We always must come before God the judge, and the God whom we live our lives to glorify and please. Can we truly testify that no corrupt communication flows from our mouth, and that our conscience is holy before God?

It is a great temptation, especially given the world we live in, to say the phrases “O my God” and “O my Word”. These phrases have become the normal exclamation for surprise. God’s name is fearful and worthy of making one stop and pause with awe and respect. There is no word we can utter forth with our tongue that is as fearful as God’s name. According to the Heidelberg Catechism Q.A. 99 we must not profane or abuse the name of God. To profane something is to make it common. Therefore, the third commandment forbids any taking of God’s name and pulling it down from its lofty place. Often, we do realize that saying this phrase as an exclamation of surprise is wrong so then we change the wording a little bit and say, “O my goodness,” or “O my gosh.” It is good we try to change our bad habits, but these are not innocent phrases either. Mark 10 recounts the story of one who came running to Jesus and came to him saying good Master. Jesus said why callest thou me good for there is none good, but one, that is, God. Even Jesus would not allow someone to call him good. Should we then say O my goodness? (If you are interested Reverent Huizinga had a sermon on “Our Use of God’s Name” which spoke and gave a complete reasoning why we should avoid all phrases contained in the initials OMG. See the link below. https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=54121718486).

May we all be active in our efforts to please God with our tongues and pray the words of Psalm 141:3-4, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity…”

Luke Christian Potjer

Do Not Delay in Doing Good

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you” (Prov. 3:27-28).

There are many times where there’d be a certain thing I’d need to do or a certain opportunity I’d need to jump on that I’d say to myself “eh, I’ll do that tomorrow.” Sometimes it may be helping out a person in need. Often it’s little things like a chore, or an obligation, or even just sending back a text or an email. I may then reason with myself, “God is sovereign so it’ll all work out in the end even if something goes wrong.” Then lo and behold, something comes up that causes the opportunity to pass. While, yes, God remains sovereign and everything that happens is ultimately for my good, nonetheless there is a real good thing that I could have done that has passed away, solely because I used God’s sovereignty as an excuse for laziness.

In thinking on this, these types of situations happen because of two errors in my thinking. The first is a prideful presumption of the future. James describes this in his epistle saying,

“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Js. 4:13-17).

This prideful assumption that you know what tomorrow will hold, such that you can put off doing the good now, to tomorrow is evil. Any time you assume that you know what goes on in the secret will of God, is evil.

“We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits” (Belgic Confession, Article 13).

The second type of thinking that leads to this behavior, is what I like to call, “Practical Hyper-Calvinism.” Regular Hyper-Calvinism is the belief that due to the fact that God is sovereign over election, the church does not have a duty to evangelize. Now this is clearly wrong, since evangelism is the God ordained means that Lord uses to save His elect. If we were to strip Hyper-Calvinism down to its basic logic, it’s something like this: “if God is sovereign over X, then man doesn’t need to participate in the means to X, in order for X to be accomplished.” A practical Hyper-Calvinist then, is someone who throughout their day-to-day life will reason with themselves saying,”God is sovereign so I don’t have to do this”. Or when combined with the first error,”God is sovereign so I don’t have to do this NOW”.

I once heard a sermon on Hyper-Calvinism in which the preacher made the claim that both Hyper-Calvinist and Arminians make the same fundamental error in their thinking. The Arminian denies the sovereignty, while the Hyper-Calvinist rejects the means. The true Calvinist however, affirms both. One thing I’ve realized, even in my own life, is that though doctrinally I’ll reject Hyper-Calvinism, I’ll often live my life like a practical Hyper-Calvinist which usually results in a lack of good deeds and bold actions for the sake of the kingdom. While I often use the sovereignty of God for an excuse to laziness, the Bible often uses the sovereignty of God as the motivation TO action.

  • All power has been given to Christ… therefore evangelize (Matt. 28:18-19).
  • God works in your salvation… therefore Work out your salvation (Phil. 2:12-13).
  • The LORD has delivered this battle into your hands… therefore go and defeat these people (I Sam. 17:47).
  • The old man has been crucified with Christ… therefore put the old man to death (Gal. 2:20).

Therefore, if you have an opportunity to do good, do not presume that you will have that opportunity tomorrow, Do not use the reality of God’s sovereignty to put it on delay, do the good now while it’s in your power to do so.

Mike Murrell

Meditation on Proverbs 4:25-27

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil” (Proverbs 4:25-27).

As I ponder this, I’m reminded of the way in which sin always seems to work. It always starts off as just a little swerve. You start off completely focused on the things of the Lord, yet something that attracts your flesh catches your attention. You say to yourself, “just a little swerve to the left won’t hurt.” And before you know it you’ve crashed into a ditch. James explains this experience in James 1:14-15: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

What then is this path you need to walk? What do your need to gaze your eyes upon? What should fill your thoughts?

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalms 16:11).

The path you must walk is the path to life. The glory of God is what you must gaze upon. True, eternal, lasting pleasure, is what you must be convinced of to fight the lies of the temporary pleasures of this world. Those who walk this path are those who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and it’s these same ones who enter into the gates of righteousness.

“Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord :  This gate of the Lord , into which the righteous shall enter” (Psalm 118:19-20).

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:   Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

The wide path is the path of lust, the path of selfish desire, the path of the lie of temporary pleasure. It’s the easy path, the path of the world, the path of human autonomy, the path of death. Yet for the few, for the righteous, for those who walk the difficult path, who gaze straight at the narrow gate, is life everlasting and true pleasures for evermore.

Mike Murrell