Speech is one of the means we use to communicate our thoughts to one another. God has created man a creature who expresses his thoughts to others. The most important influential means that man uses to convey thoughts is his speech. Through speech man conveys not only what he is thinking, but the impressions he feels regarding the subject about which he is talking. His tone of voice, his expressions, all blend to let the listener know exactly what the speaker is thinking.
Speech is very intricate and complex and I certainly do not intend to be exhaustive on the subject. What I would like to do is call your attention to some aspects of our speech which stand out.
The heart is the most important determiner of the content of our speech. This is because it is the center of man’s thinking. It is the place from which the thoughts of man originate. The heart is also the spiritual center of man’s life. It determines man’s relation to God. The thoughts of the heart, therefore, will speak of man’s relationship to his creator. They will show that he loves God or hates him. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (Matt. 15:18) The thoughts of the heart must be expressed. No man is an island. He must express the desires of his heart.
The tongue is the instrument Scripture mentions which gives utterance to the thoughts of the heart. In Scripture, the tongue is said to be a very powerful tool in our speech. Its power is totally out of proportion to its size. In James 3:4 it is likened to the rudder of a ship. The rudder is very small in comparison to the large, heavy, cumbersome ship it is capable of giving direction to. The tongue also is mall in size but, oh, how it can boast of great things.
The tongue and the heart work together to form the basic ingredients of our speech. The thoughts which originate in our heart are given expression through means of that powerful tool, the tongue. Our heart gives moral ethical content to our speech. It determines whether our speech is God centered or man centered. It determines whether we love God or hate him. What we say about God and how we say it definitely shows what our relationship to God is. It tells those listening whether we respect and honor God and hold him in holy awe or we hate God and are disrespectful. Let me use an example to demonstrate my point. We live in a world that is made up of many nations. Each nation has its own language, government, customs, leaders, etc. The easiest way for us to determine what country a person is from is by his language. A Frenchman will use French and a Dutchman, Dutch and so on. If we carry this one step farther, we can also determine how he likes his country and its leaders by how he talks about them. This same thing is true in the spiritual sense. Our speech will determine whether we are citizens of heaven or of this world. It will determine whether we love God or Satan. It will determine whether we are of the Church or the world and whether we love the saint.
When we take the name of our God in vain, our speech tells the listener we have no respect for God. Instead of holding him in holy awe, we show disrespect. That is why it is so important for us to always speak with greatest respect to and about our God. We must never give the world or our fellow saint the impression that God means very little to us.
Our speech also shows how we look on our fellow saints. Positively, our speech can be used as a very powerful tool to build up the body of Christ. We can encourage the brother who is bowed down with worries and cares. The word of God in the mouth of the saint can be a source of comfort to those who sorrow. Our speech can be a source of instruction and admonition to our fellow saints who are weak and who are careless in their godly walk. The esteem we give our brother in Christ is also manifest by our speech. Do we greet him with a Christian greeting? Do we talk about him in our conversation as one we love? Is our love such that we wish him or her God’s blessing? It can be no other way.
Negatively, our speech can be a very fearsome instrument because of the destruction it can render the fellow saint. We can destroy him by our slander, backbiting and gossip. We can lead him astray by assuring him that sin is not sin, but that everybody is doing it. We lead astray by our filthy communication. In our conversation, we can be disrespectful and disobedient to those who are placed over us by God. If these things characterize our speech we do well to heed to admonition of James 1:26; “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
We must realize, Young People, our speech is a very important part of our behavior. It tells in a very intimate way what are the thoughts of our heart. Very importantly throughout Scripture the dangers of the tongue are given special attention as to its power and influence in our lives. “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8) “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.” (Proverbs 11:9)
The only answer to our unruly tongue is the grace of God. God alone is the one who can bridle our tongue. We must pray to him and seek his help to control that unruly member of our body. We must crucify the old man of sin and his speech and put on the new man and his sanctified speech. This is what the battle of faith is all about. We are conscious willing followers of Christ. This means that consciously and willingly our speech must manifest we are the children of the Most High God. Only in this way will we with the Church of Christ be built up.