1 Peter 3:10 “For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” (quoting from Psalm 34:13)
Genesis 1:26 teaches us that man is made in the image of G-D. In what way are we made in His image? One important and revealing way is language. Jewish tradition teaches us that G-D created the world through His voice. The apostle John supports this teaching in John 1.
When G-D chose to create He spoke and what He spoke was created. The voice of G-D is not just an auditory sound but is intimately linked to creation. It was through G-D’s voice the world was created. Being made in His image we are called to be co-creators with G-D through our voice. This means our words should bring forth spiritual life to one another.
1 Thessalonian’s 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
The origin of the Evil Tongue
It was in the garden when the first case of the evil tongue revealed itself. The serpent slandered and lied against G-D!
Genesis 3:4-5 “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For G-d knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like G-d, knowing good and evil.”
There is a small amount of truth amongst the serpent’s grand deception. This is often how the evil tongue works. Think about this… G-D Created the world through His voice and brought forth all things good. Sin entered the world through the slanderous tongue and brought forth all things evil. The first temptation was the slanderous tongue of the serpent directed towards G-D and at Eve.
Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
The evil tongue is like a deceptively beautiful bitter fruit. Have you ever eaten a persimmon before it is fully ripe? It looks delicious on the outside but on the inside it is incredibly bitter.
The evil tongue is much like this persimmon. Perhaps the fruit of the tree of knowledge was a persimmon (Probably not). Just like the fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Garden, through slander we take on the image of the dragon by passing on this bitter fruit to others.
How often have we, like Eve, fallen for the slanderous tongue against those who are made in the image of G-D? We destroy instead of create! We curse instead of bless! We bring forth evil instead of good.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.”
When we criticize a person’s integrity or malign his character we are issuing a curse against them. As followers of Messiah Yeshua we have been transformed from a kingdom of darkness and curses to a kingdom of light and blessings. We are to be the light of the world as He is the light of the world.
Root causes of the evil tongue
Pride is at the root of the evil tongue! It is obvious that the pride of the serpent caused the slander against G-D. He thought he was like G-D! We often think we are being righteous when we share what we perceive to be a wrong about someone. Just like the serpent in the garden we try to take the place of G-D with our tongues. As “mature” believers we believe that we have earned the right to judge new believers. We expect them to act like us, dress like us, say all the right things. The majority of time we judge new believers is because they don’t fit into our social norm. In other words we are not judging them for sin but because they are not like we or they have upset our sensibilities. We are “offended” by them!
To speak with an evil tongue against someone is to act as their judge. In our self-righteousness we judge our brothers and sisters. It is pride that leads us to commit lashon hara.
Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.”
The principle of measure for measure! The measure we use against others will be used against us. When we judge others through the evil tongue we will be judged for our own actions.
So, if we believe we have the right to judge through the evil tongue we had better be sure that our deeds are spotless and there is no unrighteousness found to be judged be Hashem.
Another root cause of the evil tongue is a lack of trust. How many of us can trace our own path to the evil tongue to personal wounds? We have experienced person wounds and want to get our pound of flesh. It is hard to deal with the helplessness of personal hurts. Sometimes we are left with the only option of leaving them into the hands of G-D. Does not G-D promise to reward the righteous and punish the wicked?
Psalm 94:1-3 “O L-rd, G-d of vengeance, O G-d of vengeance, shine forth Rise up O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! O L-rd, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?”
We don’t like the feeling of helplessness and we don’t trust that G-D will keep His word.
May we feel that He is taking too long to bring justice so we take it into our own hands by attacking their character. The Apostle Peter addresses this same issue.
2 Peter 3:9 “The L-rd is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
We should have a heart that seeks restoration with those who wound us. This is why the Master teaches us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”
Psalm 15:1-3 “O L-rd, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor.”
The power of the tongue!
Psalm 52:2-4 “Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.”
G-D is teaching us that our tendency (the yeter harah) is to speak evil rather that words of righteousness. Are tongues are like sharpened razors. The tame the tongue takes doubling our efforts and strengthening our resolve for righteousness. We need to worry more about the plank in our own eye than on the speck in our brothers. We would do well to remember to mind our own business and reflect on our own actions.
Psalm 39:1-2 “I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”