Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions – #16

Resolved never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to (their) dishonor–more or less–upon no account except for some real good.

This resolution immediately makes me think of the cliche “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.” However, I think this resolution hits much deeper to a heart issue that is easily overlooked.

James 3:1-12 is the central passage that comes to mind for me with all of this–the “taming of the tongue” section. Verses 3 and 4 compare the tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth or a rudder on a ship; each item is small but controls the entire object. In the same way our tongue has the ability to steer our entire self in a particular direction. If we speak ill of someone (slandering, gossiping, lying, envying, etc.) then all too often–for me at least–it’s easy for my mentality towards that person to shift and to only see what I want to see, and end up building walls around myself rather than bridges in the relationship.

Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has the power of life (or) death and James 3:9-10 echoes this in saying that from the tongue comes both blessing and cursing.

I say all of this to reinforce the fact that our tongue is a strong influencer of our minds and our hearts. We would be wise to listen more than we speak (some say “there’s a reason we were given two ears and only one mouth”).

To make one final point, the last part of this resolution says “except for some real good.” I think this is extremely important to remember. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 and 5:11 both say that we must “encourage one another” (with 5:11 adding on “and build one another up”). Your brother and sister need your encouragement. Our walks with Christ can be challenging, confusing, trying, and isolating. While we do not work and pray and strive to live out the Gospel for other’s affirmation and approval, it is a welcomed encouragement when others pour into you as you strive towards the goal.

So in the end.. be mindful of what is coming from your lips (life vs. death) and begin looking for opportunities to encourage those around you.

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