Great Iron teeth which rip and devour. A fearsome beast which knows no mercy. Who can stand before this creature. The dead lay strewn in the wake of him. What makes the creature so frightening is that it looks like a lamb. Its deceptive nature is most fearful, for who would be afraid of a lamb? Was not our Savior called the Lamb of God? Yes, this beast is so awful because no one suspects that it is capable of such mayhem. Do we look like a lamb but speak as a dragon? Do our tongues roam about the earth, seeking whom they may devour?
If we are honest with ourselves, we all are guilty of dragon speech at times. Who of us has not used our mouth for cruelty? I know that I have. The Psalmist said “Behold they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who say they, doth hear?” How often have we spoken maliciously about a brother when he was not around? Do we not say in our heart, who doth hear? Do we forget that we are called to love our brother? Must we be reminded that the Lord is at hand? When we seek to portray our neighbor in a poor light, we sin. An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. Let us not be called hypocrites. How grievous it is to take the name of Christ in vain. We do that when we say “I am a Christian”, and then speak evil of our neighbor.
We also speak as a dragon when we use vulgar language. Paul tells us; let no filthy communication proceed out of your mouths. I can not help but believe that the apostle refers to (among other things) speech that is not of an upright character, primarily the use of four letter words and remarks which degrade God’s gift of marital sexual intimacy, or inflame others to lust. Some may disagree with the inclusion of all four letter words under filthy communication. Perhaps if we examine what Paul said to the Ephesians about foolish talking not to be named among the saints, we can see that four letter words are at best foolish talking. Is there not any other word that could describe the meaning of one of the cherished four letter words? Of course there is. Far more importantly, these words are viewed by Christian and infidel alike to be something Christ and His people do not speak. These words offend others, which should keep us from their use if for no other reason. Do we use words that we would never say in the presence of our mother? Would we fear to use certain terms in a conversation with a minister? Jesus said: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” If we dare testify before God and men that Christ has begun a work of purity in our lives, then let our speech be pure.
How are we to use our tongues, that we may speak not as a dragon, but as a lamb? Lord’s Day 40, Answer 107 states that God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good, even to our enemies. Notice we are to prevent the hurt of our neighbor, which would cause us to help him, not hurt him. We should not expose the weaknesses of our neighbor, but rather to seek to help him. If we can give good counsel to him, we must love him by doing this. If we do not feel that we can help him, we surely have no reason to add to his burden. I feel that we often tell ourselves that we speak about our neighbor, because we are concerned about him. This may be true, sometimes even necessary, but most of the time we do not aid him by sharing information about him with others. Far too often what happens is, we bring him down in the eyes of those whom we speak to. This is not showing love to our brother. Is it not your experience, that you hear something negative about a person, and when you meet the person, you already have made judgements about him. We must be extremely careful in this area.
It is very important that we not only do not speak evil of our neighbor, but that we speak well of him. Our calling is to love our neighbor, and we show we love him by speaking kindly of him. We should see strong points in our neighbor rather than always seeing his weaknesses. Let us encourage our brothers when they do well. We ought to see the good in our brothers, seeing them as bearers of the Holy Spirit. Who would be so foolish as to speak evil of a child of God? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Even if our neighbor is not a brother in Christ, we must still apply this principle. We should be careful that we do not look down with pride on our unbelieving neighbor, “for who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” As God’s people we must love even our own enemies, and one way we do this is by speaking well of them.
Not only must we speak well of our neighbor, but we are also called to defend his name. Yes, when we are in the presence of others we may not sit by quietly, and passively partake of their sins. We must stop such hurtful talk, because we are to love our neighbor, but also because we love those who are sinning by speaking evil. Open rebuke is better then secret love. We are called to defend the names of others. Would we not want others to defend ours? Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. This is the word of God, partake not in the sins of others, but rather speak words of righteousness.
Finally, let us speak words that are pure and true. We should speak more of our wonderful and merciful Savior that we serve. It is He that has destroyed the Dragon. It is He that has sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we might crucify those fleshly lusts, those desires to speak after the manner of the Dragon. We must let our light shine forth, and how better than to have our Redeemers name upon our lips. Our words should be as the balm of Gilead, healing and soothing. We should be in the habit of saying the Lord willing when we make plans to do something. We often get caught up in the world, and forget that it is God that will decide what we do and when we will do it. Using this phrase will help us remember God in our busy daily lives. We should speak words of edification, words that encourage our brother. We should also be mindful of our idle words that tend to grumbling, and murmuring. These are not good, for we should rejoice in all things. Let us make a heroic effort to use language that we would not be afraid to use in the presence of Jesus Christ our Lord. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
May God give us grace to honor Him with our speech.