Words are powerful. Words can bring healing or words can bring harm. So often we do not think about what we say. It’s like they just fall out of our mouths. Today we see a lot of bullying and canceling in our schools, and of course, social media is filled with all sorts of hate speech. We see too much hatred that leads to drug abuse and even suicide. A person can be destroyed for life by the words that we speak to them. We want to take a closer look at this and hopefully we will have an answer in the end. You know not all grapes are sweet. Some are sour and some are bitter, but you don’t know that till you take a bite. That is how words are, but often we know what the results of our words will be, yet, we say them anyway because we get satisfaction in hurting those who are our enemies, or maybe those we just don’t like as much and especially those who we think are lower than us. Either way the results are still the same. Gladys Knight sang a song called “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” Part of the lyrics say this, “I bet you’re wondering how I knew about your plans to make me blue. It took me by surprise, I must say, when I found out yesterday.”
There is nothing worse than hearing something that you should know from some other person. The grapevine, otherwise known as the gossip weed, is very destructive. The whispers of others only can bring a sour taste to the one that it is about. Everyone loves to hear rumors. Everyone wants to know about a scandal. Everyone likes to pass along anything even if it is a lie. How we like to pass judgment and ruin reputations and even relationships. Only bitter grapes can cause a bitter taste and that is what gossip does. There are six things that God hates and gossip is one. Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
Yes, words can bring division and they can have lasting results. Gossip can start a fire that may never be put out. The Bible has quite a bit to tell us about the power of the tongue. James 3:2-12 says “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to rein in the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their whole body as well. Look at the ships too: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are nevertheless directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot determines. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our body’s parts as that which defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one among mankind 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 have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. Does a spring send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, bear olives, or a vine bear figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”
You see, the fruit of our lips can be sweet or the fruit can be rotten. The fruit of our lips can build up or it can tear down as Ephesian 4:29 tells us ,”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.”
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
You know the thing about gossip is that it is spoken in secret, but it always comes to light. Luke 8:17 tells us this, “For nothing is concealed that will not become evident, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” We need to heed the advice of Psalm 34:13 which says, ,”Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” The sad thing about gossip is that it is usually a lie or at least, taken out of context, so most often one is spreading a lie. We know what happened to Adam and Eve when they listened to the lie of the serpent and ate the sinful fruit, they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:1-7.
So what about the person who listens to those lies? Proverbs 17:4 says this, “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.” You see if we would refuse to listen to such gossip, because we really don’t know if it is true or a lie, then we would not be guilty of the sin of gossip, and of course, you know how that goes, once you hear something, well, then the natural thing would be to repeat it. And now you are an accomplice to this, and you are as guilty as the one who spoke it to you, and now, you too, become a liar. The Bible tells us that there will be a time when people will become even more malicious in their gossip. 2 Timothy 3:2-5 says, “ For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these.”
Psalm 12:1-4 says this, ‘Help, Lord , for the godly person has come to an end, for the faithful have disappeared from the sons of mankind. They speak lies to one another; they speak with flattering lips and a double heart. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things; Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”
Let’s look at some other verses from this very wise book. God created us to love one another as Proverbs 15:4 tells us, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Proverbs 13:3 says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
When God is at the center of our lives, He is able to help us to watch over our mouths. Psalm 14:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
You have a choice, everyone has a choice. You can do good or you can do evil. You can speak words that will destroy or harm someone or you can walk away from listening to what you know will start a flame that will burn in the hearts of many. I know that if you walk away then there will be gossip about you, but if that is the case it is always better to do right then to do wrong. Keep your mind pure and your words sweet and you will bear fruit, good fruit, fruit that will be worth eating and you will see that people will be drawn to you. Proverbs 18:20, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.”
Today, are you choosing death or will you choose life? Will you choose to speak bitterness and hatred or will you speak sweetness and love? Will you decide to be the firewall to stop the fire or the kindling that makes it spread? One more thought. What kind of fruit comes from your lips will define you as a person and the kind of people who will sit under your tree.