Devotional: ‘Negative Speech’  

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The brothers, James and John, became great men of God. James was a leader in the early church and was one of the first believers to give their life for the cause of Christ. John wrote a gospel that bears his name, as well as three epistles, and the magnificent book of Revelation. Great things came from these two men once their personalities were tamed and brought under Jesus’ control. How does God bring a strong spirit under His control?

First, let’s consider the problem of our negative words.

James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. NKJV

Consider what the Bible says about negative speech –

  • Negative speech comes from a ‘little tongue’
  • Negative speech can cause a great fire
  • Negative speech is a part of the world of iniquity (iniquity is anything that is unrighteous)
  • Negative speech can contaminate our entire being by stirring up our old sinful nature
  • Negative speech is often set on fire by hell
  • Negative speech is like a wild animal out of control
  • Negative speech is like the deadly poison of a snake

If you are someone who sometimes struggles with negative speech, then perhaps you have concluded that this is just the way you are and therefore, something you will have to live with it. But consider what Jesus said about our speech –

Luke 6:43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. NKJV  

Notice that ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’ In other words, what’s in the well comes up in the bucket. Negative words are sinful, but they only expose a greater problem. Negative words reveal a negative heart. When James and John suggested destroying the Samaritans, Jesus rebuked them. “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” In other words, “Your heart is all wrong. Your heart is full of anger, hatred, pride, bitterness, and self-righteousness. Your heart is not filled with the love of God.” 

I’m sure those words of rebuke must have stung the two ambitious disciples, but perhaps it was the beginning of their change. Maybe it caused them to take a good look into their hearts and to question why they were feeling this way. Maybe it helped them to stop hiding behind some superficial spirituality and to no longer try to justify their bad attitudes. Maybe it gave them a glimpse into what it really means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Maybe today’s study has caused some of us to do the same.

Until tomorrow, God bless you brethren.

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