No Time for the Untameable Tongue
“But the tongue can no man tame;
it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. ”
* * * * *
Prophet Malcolm smiled.
“Say it with me, Granddaddy,” Genevieve said in her tiny five-year-old voice.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can’t hurt my feelings.”
“Now, do you really believe that?” Prophet Malcolm asked his granddaughter as she snuggled up to him. He was reading to her from a nursery rhyme book.
“Yes. Words cannot hurt my feelings, Granddaddy,” Genevieve said. “Can words hurt your feelings?”
“Well, some people have said some words that have hurt my feelings,” Prophet Malcolm said, putting on a sad face.
“Well, once in school this boy called me four-eyes because I wore glasses. This other boy called me Pinocchio’s cousin and kept saying my nose was bigger than Pinocchio’s nose and that I was made out of wood and that I probably lied a lot. I was so hurt I punched him in the chest.”
“You did? Did you get in trouble?” Genevieve asked wide-eyed.
“Well, after I told the teacher what he said, the teacher made both of us apologize to each other.”
“Well, he told a lie like Pinocchio because your nose is not big, Granddaddy.”
“Why, thank you, precious,” Prophet Malcolm said, giving his granddaughter a hug as he continued reading to her.
“Genevieve,” Sadie called walking into the room, “give Granddaddy a hug and a kiss; it’s time for your Sunday evening nap.”
“Will you take a nap with me, Grandmama?”
“I think I will,” Sadie said, holding her hand out for her granddaughter to grab a hold of.
“See you in a few, Granddaddy,” Genevieve said, giving her grandfather a big bear hug and a kiss on his cheek.
“See you in a few, precious,” Prophet Malcolm said with a chuckle. Children are, indeed, a gift from God.
As his wife and granddaughter were leaving the room, the Prophet’s phone rang.
“I’ll get it,” he said to his wife as she slowed her steps to see if he wanted her to answer the phone. “Hello?”
“Hello, Prophet Malcolm. I hope you have a word from the Lord for me this Sunday evening,” Bishop Akron greeted his mentor. “How was your Sunday, brother?”
“Extra blessed. I am here enjoying my extra blessing. My granddaughter Genevieve spent the weekend with us.”
“Is that your son’s daughter?”
“Yes. She’s Jake’s five-year-old daughter. His wife gave birth to their second child last night so we are keeping ‘GiGi’ until she returns home. They tell me she gave birth to a robust seven pound baby boy.”
“Congratulations! Children and grandchildren are a blessing,” Bishop Akron said.
“Yessir. A blessing if you raise them right.”
“That’s right,” Bishop Akron said. “So how were the services today?”
“The power was there, today. I believe when a preacher preaches, he should stir up the embers and get the folks on fire for God and holiness; he has to help break up the fallow ground under the folks and get them back on fertile ground; he has to step on some toes where their reaction is ‘Oh, me,’ ‘Oh, my,’ or ‘Amen.’ Yes, sir, the power was there today,” Prophet Malcolm said. “The ‘like’ button which I call the ‘Amen’ button kept lighting up. My technician said he could hardly keep up with all the hits it was receiving.”
“What did you preach on?”
“The sins of the tongue.”
“Whoa! I know you did more than just touch on it,” Bishop Akron said with a chuckle.
“Brother, I became a preaching machine for sure, especially now since I can’t look the people in their faces, not that I am afraid of their faces. But what does the Bible say? ‘The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil full of deadly poison.’ The tongue is full of evil; so many wicked things come out of the mouth. Jesus said it is not what goes into a man that defiles that man; it is what comes out of the man that defiles him. What is in his heart is what is going to come out of the man,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“I don’t mean to interrupt, but seriously, who do you think are the biggest troublemakers in the church?”
“Those who cannot hold their tongue; those who spew out foolish words with a vehemence; those who feel they just have to say their piece, and oftentimes that is all they have to say: just a piece of something they think which oftentimes amounts to nothing. Then you have those who calculate their words; they know exactly what they are going to say, how they are going to say it and when they are going to say it to sow division amongst the brethren. Words cover just about every action known to mankind,” Prophet Malcolm said. “One time, I had to preach a couple of ladies into holy silence. They had been gossiping and causing enmity and refusing to keep silent in the church and outside the church and to mind their own business. They had more to say at every church meeting than most of the men who were in leadership positions.”
“You don’t allow the women any say in your church, Prophet Malcolm? They have insight into things also you know. Especially if it’s for a special event put on by the church like a mother/daughter or father/daughter banquet, or some kind of conference that involves meal planning, or something like changing the color scheme of the auditorium. You know generally speaking women are better at planning and supervising things like that.”
“Yes, I know. But they have their place. The Bible does say the women ought to keep silent in the church and if they have any questions to ask their husbands. And in my church that means when we have a church meeting you cannot just blurt out whatever you want to say. This goes for both men and women. Everyone must speak with respect and permission, so no one is picking on the women.”
Bishop Akron chuckled. “You know, I have come to find out that men, preachers in particular, are some of the biggest gossips. They get together and talk about the problems they are having in their churches with Sister So-and-So and Brother So-and-So and even Pastor So-and-So and strip them of all their dignity. Then they end up wanting to sound holy in an attempt to smother their guilt from gossiping by saying, ‘We’ll just pray for them.’”
“You’re right. Preachers are some of the biggest gossips,” Prophet Malcolm said. “I say don’t talk about praying for whoever you mention praying for; just go right into prayer for them. Pastors can tell some of the biggest lies when they say ‘I’ll pray for them.’ They end the conversation and never say a praying word for whoever it is they were gossiping about. I say, pray for them immediately.”
“I’m battling this issue in my church as well,” Bishop Akron said. “However, it’s not so much among the men. It’s some of our women. And I hate to say this, but sometimes my wife is in the mix. She feels because she is my wife she can just up and say anything she wants to say whenever she wants to say it to whoever she wants to say it to. She has an uncontrollable tongue. I hate to admit this, but more times than not, she is the leader of the pack of gossiping women. I sincerely believe many of the women would keep quiet if she would.”
“But I try to show her some respect and let her have her say,” Bishop Akron said. “I don’t want church visitors to leave with a bitter taste in their mouths.”
“Has that helped any?” Prophet Malcolm asked.
“Most times I just joke off whatever she may say that I feel smacks of opposition even in the slightest,” Bishop Akron said, ignoring the question. Not wanting to go into any detail he quickly asked, “How do you handle an evil tongue in your church? I know you preach against it from the pulpit, but do you have any other insight you want to pass on?”
“Paul had to deal with the same thing between Euodias and Synteche in the church of Phillipi. He said, ‘I beseech Euodias and Synteche that they be of the same mind.’ Apparently there was some contention between them that was causing a disturbance in the church, and I have no doubt that there was probably some gossiping going on as well. Now that’s just my surmising as Paul did not say that there was gossiping. But I am sure Sister Euodias went to another sister or two and said some things about Sister Synteche to them and vice-versa. I encourage my folks to just go with the flow; be of the same mind, in one accord. And if there is a problem go to God and then come to me first before you go discussing it with others inside the church or outside the church.”
“We gossip about fellow Christians who we are supposed to love and then we want to lift our hands and tongue up to Heaven praising God. How hypocritical can we get,” Bishop Akron said.
“Tell me about it. James says how can we curse man and turn around and praise God out of the same mouth?” Prophet Malcolm said. “The psalmist David asked, ‘What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?’ His answer? ‘Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.’ He then said, ‘I will take heed to my ways that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my tongue with a bridle.’ He even goes on to say, ‘I held my peace even from good.’ So we don’t always have to say something.”
“And what tickles me are those people who feel they have to have the last word. What is that all about?” Bishop Akron said. “I guess they feel empowered and that they have won the argument which is not always the case.”
“The tongue has gotten more people in trouble than anything else. A man is brought to a piece of bread because he got led astray by the smooth words of a woman. ‘For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword’,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“And vice-versa,” Bishop Akron quickly added.
“Exactly. So it’s not just a gossiping tongue that we have to be aware of; it’s those sweet-talking tongues as well.”