July - September 2005

Sisters’ class in Pakistan

"By your words…"

I write this time about something I cannot but flinch at addressing. Something in which I cannot but feel more deeply than usual my own sense of serious inadequacy. It is the matter of the tongue, of our words, of what we say and how we say them and what we don’t say. It may be that we all have a similar feeling of awkwardness about this matter, knowing our failings. But this doesn’t help me feel any better at all about this matter. The fact is, by our words we will be condemned and by our use of words we will be counted as righteous. The importance of our words cannot be overstressed. Judah were condemned "because their tongue and their words are against the Lord" (Is. 3:8). All their idolatry, perversion etc. was summarized in their words. Again and again Isaiah and the prophets say that the reason for Israel’s condemnation was their words, even those they said under their breath - "your tongue hath muttered perverseness" (Is. 59;3). "Their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue" (Hos. 7:16). "The inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins" (Mic. 6:12,13). Truly "death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof" (Prov. 18:21).

The Hebrew word usually translated "tongue" is also...

Duncan Heaster

"By your words" Duncan Heaster


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