Posts Tagged loshon hora

Witness This

Psalm 39: 1 – 2             NIV

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good.

If you want to keep yourself from sin, the tongue is an excellent place to start. Most of us do more damage to ourselves and others with our mouth than any other way. In my book, Journey Through the Bible, chapter 64 is titled Loshon Hora. This is a Hebrew expression for derogatory speech. If you study Loshon Hora, you will discover that the Rabbinical teachings advise against derogatory speech, otherwise called evil talk, not only because of the negative impact upon others but also because it is damaging to the speaker. The words which come out of our mouths either edify us or defile us. So, when we speak negatively about someone else, even if it is true, we tear down ourselves. I encourage you to take this to heart as absolute truth.

David knew the truth of this. Sometimes it is more beneficial to remain silent even when you want to speak truth. Fools cast their pearls before swine. Yet we find ourselves with many words. We want to preach people into the Kingdom of God, but God never told us to do that. Preachers are for the saved, to train them and teach them so they can do into the world and save the wicked. Paul said, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” (1 Corinthians 2: 4). If Paul’s witness was demonstrations of the Spirit and his power, then why do we choose to talk people to death? We are on the wrong path entirely. We should all know by now that people aren’t listening to what we say, they are watching what we do. So, are our lives demonstrations of God’s love? Are we harbingers of His power and grace? People are not interested in what we think. They are interested in God’s presence and we can be those carriers of God’s presence to people, literally, everywhere we go.

Our goal should be to honor Jesus’ commission to us by first obeying Romans 12: 2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” See, our job is to be transformed so that people see that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Not us, but God in us. We aren’t perfect in ourselves, but He is. Our mission is to allow the Lord to transform us. That is accomplished through the renewal of our minds. You see, mine and your first task is not to tell the world how to be. It is to let God show us who we should be. Our effort should be focused on our own renewal and subsequent transformation. When we are renewed and transformed, we won’t have to say much because God in us will be loudly visible. We will demonstrate the love and power of the Almighty as did Paul.

We have had this all upside down for so long and we absolutely must correct this. We are the church, we are the temple of the Almighty. That is where people are looking to see if God is alive. We must become more attractive images of Christianity. Don’t try to change them so they can go to heaven. Change you with the power of the Holy Spirit so they want to go to heaven. We’ve been making heaven look like hell. We’ve got to right this ship and mirror our Lord. We are to be his disciples which means we act like him, we talk like him. David said, “I will watch my ways.” We’ve been busy watching their ways. We’ve been acting like the world and frankly, talking like them too, and then trying to persuade others that we know truth.

Let us save ourselves. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2: 12). Let derogatory speech have no part with you. Keep your tongue from sin. By this we guard ourselves and minister to others.

Thoughts & Words

Psalm 19: 14                God’s Word

May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my defender.

This verse has been on an index card for years. Though I am better, I need to be reminded daily. This is not about holiness though one cannot be holy without clean thoughts and words. Although this verse stands alone very well, you will understand its richness when you take it in context with the rest of the nineteenth psalm. Look back at our Words of the Day for this week. Is there a theme? What was David trying to communicate?

This is definitely a good news psalm. It has been about guaranteed success, a designated path, protection, a healthy soul and spirit, a cheerful heart, radiant joy and more. We discovered yesterday from verse eleven that being in Jesus, not just believing in him, but living in him is key. David reveals another important key today, guarding our thoughts and words.

It is easy to think of this verse as an admonition to refrain from ugly thoughts and words and sure, that probably goes pretty much without saying. I think, though, that is a very limited reading and understanding of this powerful verse. Look at the phrasing David used. It is interesting what he didn’t write and that is a clue to the deeper meaning embedded here. He didn’t write, “Keep me from thinking evil thoughts and speaking derogatory words.” David’s concern was not focused on the absence of offensive speech and thought. Instead, he wanted his words and thoughts to be acceptable in God’s sight. He wanted his words to not only avoid negativity but rather to radiate positivity and faith. That is a far different thing.

We are not talking about living in a vacuum here. The goal is not to refrain from saying something bad. That is a given. The next step would be silence, i.e. “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” No, David is coaxing us on to level three. Intentionally say things, think things which are appealing to God. Speak in agreement with God words. That is the lesson of this verse.

If you undertake to speak Yahweh kind of words, then begin with His Word. That makes sense, doesn’t it? If you want to speak God words then you will need to think God thoughts for whatever is in your heart, will come out of your mouth. That is a guarantee. If we want God appropriate thoughts and words, then we must put His thoughts and words inside us. I suppose this is what folks call a “no-brainer”, but we need to actually think about this because it requires purposeful action. Life is busy and there are distractions everywhere, especially at this time of year, but will we purpose in our hearts to invest time in God’s Word? It is a challenge, I grant you. That is why we have to be so very intentional about it.

Me too! There are things vying for my time too but if I don’t spend the time in the Word and with my heavenly father, it really shows. The revelation just doesn’t pour out. So, when I get out my calendar, sometimes I just have to schedule prayer time and make it happen. So, I appreciate your challenge. None the less, find five minutes if that is all you have and read some of your Word. Here is a very easy thing to do when you don’t know where to read. Take the Word of the Day and read the chapter it is taken from. It will generally take you less than five minutes and it will actually enrich what you heard in the Word of the Day.

Put in the Word and the Word will come out. Then your thoughts and words will be pleasing to the Father and that will make your heart joyful and your life successful.

Lip Tripping

2 Timothy 3: 1 – 3

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips.

Well, this verse alone ought to convince us we are in the last days. Paul warned us that difficult times would come. What is interesting is that, for the most part, the behaviors listed in these verses are not even reviled in our modern culture. For the most part, all of these, previously detestable, acts are accepted. These truths strike grief in the heart.

Worry not, however. God is in the business of transforming hearts. He remakes us into the beautiful creatures of design. The world has stained and molded us but God, through Jesus, has restored us to His glory. Wherever sin and evil abound, God’s grace does so even more (Romans 5: 20).

Obviously, this is a list of behaviors that are abhorrent to God. These are signs that we are falling into destruction, signs of decay. It is worth a moment to re-read the list and ponder the deeds which God has highlighted as signs of our downfall. Each is a lesson in itself but I want to focus on one in particular because most of us fall into this trap and must be reminded that God finds this habit repulsive.

Gossip makes God’s list of reprehensible acts, acts that are indicative of the decadent and fallen state of humanity. The concern that challenges me most is that I am just as guilty in this regard as any unsaved heathen in the world. Really, how many Christians fall into the trap of gossiping? The answer is sure to alarm us. The truth is, though none wants to say, and no one wants to hear it, gossip is a sin.

How would you define gossip? We normally think of it as talking about a third person in a way that is not edifying to them, although gossip doesn’t edify us either. The Jews have a clear perspective, one that informs my thinking. They teach the doctrine of Loshon Hora. In a general sense it means malignant or derogatory speech about another. Paying close attention to this description, it becomes clear that the speech can be true and yet still be prohibited. It is speech which, even if true, tends to cause harm or potential harm to the person about whom the speech refers. In other words, gossip.

In this I will say, as Paul once did, I am chief among sinners. I know, however, that I am not alone. This is a good time to remind ourselves that talking about others is detrimental to ourselves and harmful to the reputations of others. We should, in the least, be concerned about the stain we leave on our own spirits by spewing vileness from our lips.

The cure is simple. Just don’t tell tales about others. Don’t talk about others. If we take advice from the Word, we would practice “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5: 19). We should talk about the Lord and glorify His name rather than run down the name of others. Do it for yourself. Edify yourself by speaking holy words rather than gossip. It is important for your sake.

If you really wish to edify yourself, look up the doctrine of loshon hora, Google it. You will be surprised. Some describe it as evil speech and claim it to be even worse than murder, immorality or idolatry. Also, for a brief discussion, see my book Journey Through the Bible, chapter 64 (this book may be purchased at: https://iveyministries.org/product/journey-through-the-bible/.)