Respectable Sins: Sins of the Tongue

I just can’t read more than a chapter of Jerry Bridges’ book, Respectable Sins, at a time anymore.  Chapter 19 is by far the shortest chapter in this book, but once again it carries a powerful punch.  In this chapter, Bridges addresses the sins of the tongue and he is not just talking about gossip.  The sins of the tongue also include:

  • lying
  • slander
  • critical speech (even when true)
  • harsh words
  • insults
  • sarcasm
  • ridicule

While there are many verses in the Bible that address the sins of our tongue (e.g. James 3), Bridges has found Ephesians 4:29 to be the most helpful/convicting:  “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  This leads to a question for us to ponder as we consider the words that we use, whether in the context of gossip (as Bridges introduces it) or modified otherwise:  “Will what I’m about to say tend to tear down or build up the person I’m about to talk about?” (authors emphasis).  This is a good question, if we will stop long enough to think and not just speak. We might also ask, along with Bridges, other questions about our words:  “Is it kind?” and “Is it needful?”.

The final aspect of the sins of our tongue that Bridges points out is the relationship between mouth and heart.  “…our real problem is our heart.  Behind all of our gossip, slander, critical speech, insults, and sarcasm is our sinful heart.  The tongue is only the instrument that reveals what’s in our hearts.”  Just yesterday, a big story in the sports world has been Shaq’s rapping in a manner that was unkind to former teammate Kobe Bryant.  Shaq’s response is that he was just playing and doing what rappers do.  This may be true, but our heart is still the spring from which these thoughts/words spring up.  A roommate of my mine once famously (at least in our house) said, “Did I say that out loud?” after saying something that was less than kind.

It’s a heart problem and a thought problem, not just a speech problem.   I think this the aspect that is the most challenging for me personally.   While I may not be a gossip (then again…), I do pride myself on being quick witted at times and able to use sarcasm effectively.  While the use of these things are not necessarily sinful, they are also not always done in a pure manner either.  Sometimes, I would rather say the wrong thing to score a point, than to honor my Heavenly Father. So, we need to pray like David:  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Introduction & Schedule for blogging on Respectable Sins

Reflections on Chapters 1 & 2

Reflections on Chapters 3 & 4

Reflections on Chapters 5 & 6

Reflections on Chapters 7 & 8

Reflections on Chapters 9 & 10

Reflections on Chapters 11 & 12

Reflections on Chapters 13 & 14

Reflection on Chapter 15 & 16

Reflection on Chapter 17 & 18


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