Part 1 recap
The first case of the evil tongue is found in the Garden of Eden.
There are two root causes for the evil tongue!
- Pride: When we speak against someone with the evil tongue we are taking the place of G-D and acting as their judge.
- Lack of trust: We are taking matters in our own hands by speaking against someone who has harmed us. We believe that either G-D is not acting fast enough or that He is not responding at all to our hurts.
In part two of the Serpents tongue we will look at some practical steps to taming the tongue within our community.
Taming the tongue is one of the most difficult sins to have mastery over.
James 3:7-10 “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of G-d. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
How do we gain mastery over the tongue? The Bible gives us clear guidance on how we are to bring the tongue under control and how to judge properly. But aren’t we told not to judge? There are times when we are to bring judgment against individuals, however, we are told not to judge improperly, for the manner that we judge others we will be judged by. This is the measure for measure rule! Given this timeless rule taught by the Master it is probably wise to judge favorably. As much as is wisely deemed we should assume the best rather than the worst. This is what we call given someone “the benefit of the doubt”. How do we respond when the story brought to us seems true or reasonable Maybe we have determined that the story seems to fit within the person’s character. Maybe we believe the person telling the story has the best of intensions.
Gossip and slander amongst the body of Messiah is often done under the assumptions of what is “best” for the community, even though it calls into question a person’s good name, character, and reputation. Allegations that are raised demand a just verdict. These allegations however are often reached without any righteous verdict. A white paper from First Fruits of Zion offers a four step process for determining whether or not we have followed the Torah path regarding the evil tongue and bringing just judgment.
Ask the question if the allegation is really sin. As I mentioned lesson one, more often than not gossip involves the breaking of a social norm than a sin as described in the Scriptures. Someone has upset our sensitive’s and offended us! They have bruised our pride! We must keep in mind that the perceived offender likely did not intend to offend. Maybe someone’s phone language was less than polite to you! They told a joke that you took personally! This is where the principle of judging favorably comes into play. If the offended would merely talk to the offender and not to the rest of the congregation than much heartache could be avoided! Remember that it is G-D who defines sin, not us! We do a disservice when we elevate social politeness to the same level of sin as defined in the Scriptures.
For example: It is clear based on the decision of the Apostles in Acts 15 that for gentiles eating unclean food is not defined as a “sin”. We would do well to stay away from unproductive talk of Christians eating unclean food. Speech that damages a person’s character is clearly defines as the sin of the evil tongue in Scripture. Ephesians 4:29 “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.”
Are their reliable witnesses? This is a clear rule of Torah! If there are not two or more reliable witnesses to confirm the allegation than it must be dismissed as the evil tongue, even if there is a chance that it may be true. Even if you believe the allegations fall within a persons character. The individuals honor must be upheld and the benefit of the doubt given until proven otherwise. This is the principle in America that we call “innocent until proven guilty”. If there is sin in the camp than it must be dealt with, but we are not listen to accusations without any proof.
Deuteronomy 19:15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.”
1 Timothy 5:19 “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.”
Was the offender approached? If the offended believed a sin was committed, did he take the Biblical approach of approaching the accused? If this was not followed and the accuser approached another congregant than the accuser is engaging in the sin of the evil tongue. If there was real sin and you approached the accuser than hopefully you have won your brother through a repentant heart. Because we do not know the full story and we hope to win our brother through repentance we are to approach with a spirit of gentleness and humility. This also requires an honest assessment of our selves. Before we can point out the speck in someone’s eye we should deal with the plank in our own. If we come across as self-righteous and pious to others we will find it difficult to win our brother back. A spirit of humility is essential for Biblical correction.
Was the principle of Matthew 18 followed?
Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.”
This builds upon the precedence found in Steps 2 and 3. This is the Torah pattern taught to us by the Master. If the allegations are determined to be a sin, it was witnessed by at least two reliable witnesses, and the accuser was approached by at least one of the witnesses or the offended party without success than we are to move on to step 4. The matter is than brought back to the Elders of the congregation for determination and possible judgment. Nowhere do we see instructions about sharing our problems with a sympathetic ear. Not to your best friend or someone you believe can keep their mouth shut! If sin has been committed the goal of this process is to restore the individual to a right relationship with G-D and with the community.
When we step outside of these Biblical principles we are playing into the enemies hands. When we follow these Biblical steps we will defeat the enemy’s attempts to kill and destroy every time. Since man is made in the image of G-d any negative or shaming act against another is a desecration of G-D’s Name. But when engage in restoration and positive uplifting talk we are engaging in the honoring of G-D’s Name. These principles primarily deal with problems within the people of the Covenant. What about people outside of the Covenant of G-D? The Proverbs speak of correcting those outside of the Covenant of G-D.
Proverbs 9:7-9 “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
Use wisdom as when and how to approach someone who is not of the Covenant. Even family members! Lost people will act like lost people and we cannot expect any different. s the Apostle Paul teaches us “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”