(The Evil Tongue)
What do people do when they get together? The answer will probably not surprise you. When people get together, they usually talk; and the thing that they usually talk about is other people.
Putting this question into a scriptural context: What is it that is the hardest thing for a person to control? Most will agree that it's the tongue.
James 3:2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 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 Gehenna.
Yes, in the same way that a huge ship can be controlled by a small rudder, if any man can control his tongue, he can control his entire body! But as the case usually is, the tongue is like a little fire that ignites a huge forest.
James 3:7 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.
What a situation. It seems hopeless! Continuing on in James 3...
James 3:9 With it we bless our Elohim and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of Elohim. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
So what can we do to tame the evil tongue (lashon hara)? How can we stamp it out?
Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.
In other words, the more we talk, the more likely it is that we will sin; while being slow to speak is using wisdom...
Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
Proverbs 15:7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so.
When the wise speak, they bring forth knowledge whereas the fool brings forth foolishness
Proverbs 15:23 A man has joy in the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous studies to answer: but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
As we continue our study of lashon hara (the evil tongue), it should become apparent that a man's heart controls the tongue.
Proverbs 16:27 A worthless man digs up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. 28 A perverse man sows strife: and a whisperer separates chief friends.
The preceding is an example of lashon hara. The following verse is very interesting...
Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Yes, even a fool, if he keeps silent, is considered to be wise. That would seem to be the first step in controlling the evil tongue; learning how to keep quiet!
There are six things that YHWH hates, seven that are an abomination to him. The sixth and the seventh both have to do with lashon hara, or the evil tongue...
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Number six is concerning someone who bears false witness. This a direct violation of the eighth commandment...
Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Number seven has to do with someone who sows discord among the brethern. What does this mean? The following are examples of those who sow discord...
Proverbs 16:28 A perverse man sends forth strife, And a whisperer separates intimate friends.
Proverbs 22:10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.
Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am YHWH.
What is a talebearer? A talebearer is someone who gossips about other people. If it is a lie that the talebearer is spreading, then it is slander. However, it does not have to be a lie to be a sin.
Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
So, lashon hara (the evil tongue) would include a talebearer. We need to learn to be wise concerning this subject...
Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth
Proverbs 21:23 Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles.
Proverbs 18:7 A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. 8 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O YHWH, my strength, and my redeemer.
The preceding verse would be a good starting point for prayer concerning our struggles with the evil tongue.
Psalm 51:15 O YHWH, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
We need to ask ourselves, in our conversations, are we showing forth the praises of YHWH? For instance, are we showing forth His praises if we are speaking evil of another?
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter any thing before Elohim: for Elohim is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
We can see that there is a connection between our heart and our tongue: "let not your heart be hasty to utter anything before Elohim..." We need to consider what we are about to speak (is it going to be to the honor of YHWH?) We need to pray that the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts will be pleasing to YHWH. If we do this, then we should begin to overcome the evil tongue.
Ecclesiastes 5:3 As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.
The more we say, the more likely we are to say the wrong thing!
Psalm 140:1 Deliver me, O YHWH, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man; 2 Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war. 3 They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah.
It speaks of being delivered from evil men who gather together for war with their tongues. Where do you suppose this war started? In their hearts! Yahushua said:
Matthew 12:36 "But I say unto you, 'That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.'"
Psalm 34:12 What man is he
that desires life, and loves many days, that he may see
34:13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking deceit.
34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moshe (lashon hara). Miriam was struck with leprosy.
Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 And they said, "Hath YHWH indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?" And YHWH heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
Numbers 12:4 And YHWH spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, "Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation." And they three came out. 5 And YHWH came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. 6 And he said, "Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I YHWH will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of YHWH shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" 9 And the anger of YHWH was kindled against them; and he departed. 10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.
Numbers 12:11 And Aaron said unto Moses, "Alas, my master, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. 12 Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb. 13 And Moses cried unto YHWH, saying, "Heal her now, O El, I beseech thee." 14 And YHWH said unto Moses, "If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again." 15 And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.
So we can see the result of lashon hara when Aaron and Mirium spoke against Moses. In Numbers 11, the Israelites were punished for complaining.
Numbers 11:1 And when the people complained, it displeased YHWH: and YHWH heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of YHWH burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. 2 And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto YHWH, the fire was quenched. 3 And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of YHWH burnt among them.
The penalty for this lashon hara was for fire to go throughout the camp and consume them that were guilty of this sin. This continued until Moshe intervened on their behalf.
Lashon hara should not have a place in the lives of any of YHWH's children. The speaking of evil does not have to be a lie in order to be lashon hara. Lashon hara is both a very serious sin, and one that has wide acceptance in the world around us. It is readily apparent that most of what passes as news in the modern media is nothing more than lashon hara on an international scale.
Are we, as followers of Yahushua, willing to bring this subject to the light in our own life? We should realize that if we do bring it to the light, that it is going to be painful. Are we willing to think about and meditate on our short-comings in this area? Are we willing to declare war on our evil tongue?
Psalm 34:9 O fear YHWH, ye his set apart: for there is no want to them that fear him. 10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek YHWH shall not want any good thing. 11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of YHWH. 12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. 15 The eyes of YHWH are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16 The face of YHWH is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry, and YHWH heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18 YHWH is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but YHWH delivereth him out of them all. 20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22 YHWH redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
For our final scripture...
James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.