Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
As a little child, I remember going to the doctor on the odd occasions when I fell ill. The doctor would ask me what was wrong with me, but before I could give him any kind of answer, he'd tell me to stick my tongue out! It didn't take long for me to realize that he didn't really care what I said to him; all he was interested in was my tongue, which apparently told him more about the state of my physical health than anything I might have said. Interestingly, our tongues also speak a lot about the state of our spiritual health, and Scripture says a lot about this. Today we heard Jesus saying, that it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.
Earlier he had scolded the Pharisees. “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. And I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:34-37). Oops. It is by our words that we are judged. So, how do you think we will fare? Let’s just look at a FEW sins of the tongue. I will mostly just quote Scripture, without commentary.
One: talking too much. Is that a sin? <laughs> Like I said, I’m just gonna tell you what the scriptures say today. This is what Solomon said: “As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words” (Ecclesiastes 5:3). And this is what Jesus said. He was, of course, someone greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42). “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). It is also wisdom to listen more than talk. As you may have heard it said, if God gave us two ears, but only one mouth, it was for a reason.
Two: Gossip and Slander. Paul said, “ Not thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10). You might find it interesting to note that the word "devil" in Greek means "a slanderer". Whenever we engage in slanderous conversation we become devilish—quite literally. All slander has its roots in gossip, which is talk about personal or sensational facts about others. This is diabolical at all times, seeing as how slander is character assasination, worse than murder because here the victim is still physically alive and having to deal with a mutilated reputation.
Three: Lies. The psalmist says: “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies” (Psalm 34:13). This is another sin of the tongue that comes straight from the devil, whom Scripture refers to as "a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). When we lie, we immediately adopt Satan for a dad and condemn ourselves in the eyes of God, who abhors liars and promises them a bath in "a fiery lake of burning sulphur" (Revelation 21:8). No kidding! Want more? Well, Scripture warns about hastiness in speech (Ecclesiastes 5:2), about flattery and boastfulness (Psalm 12:2-3), about obscenity and coarse joking (Ephesians 5:4), and foolish and stupid arguments (2 Timothy 2:23-24).
I figure that’s enough, or you might accuse me of talking too much too! But seriously, let us tame those tongues, guys. Because as James warns: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26)
May the Spirit be with you.