James E. Farley
If a man tells a lie to another man, and the second man spreads this lie, even thinking it is true, is it not still a lie? Does a lie change into the truth simply because the one telling it is convinced it is true? The obvious answer to that question is “NO!” A lie is a lie, is a lie!
I heard a tale not long ago about a preacher whom I have known since I was a child. I have known this man for many years, and, when I heard what was said about him, I knew it was not so, for it contradicted everything I ever knew about this man’s character and integrity. I have known him to be a good, honest, sound man. I simply told the ones telling it, “If you are not sure about what you are saying, it is better just to be quiet about it. Now, are you absolutely sure about what you are saying about this good man?” They then sheepishly admitted that they had only heard this from another and they were not at all sure. I asked them if they would be willing to go with me to face the preacher and repeat the story to him. Oh, no, they were not at all willing to do that. What they were doing was simply gossiping. I have since learned that the story is mere fabrication, though I do not know the origin of it.
Just a week or so ago I had another preacher come to me and ask me about something that I was supposed to have said and done about ten years ago. He said, “When your name is brought up, this is said about you, and many who are telling this are preachers themselves.” That did not surprise me, for many of my preaching brethren seem to revel in gossip. The story had a few tidbits of truth sprinkled here and there, but the overall story, and certainly the conclusion reached, was simply a lie! To say the least, this is hurtful and causes people to become cynical and distrustful even of their own brethren. Such is not the wisdom that descends from above! Some who repeat such gossip may, indeed, think they are simply repeating the truth, or even doing a service by warning brethren about another. If it is untrue, if it is a lie, they are lying, and they fall under the condemnation of Revelation 21:8. Be careful here brothers and sisters, for this is serious business.
James warns us about the power of the tongue and how it must be constrained and controlled. He refers to it as a “fire” and as “poison.” Fire destroys openly, and often people are openly cruel and mean with their tongues. Poison is an inside job. It is secretive. It is gossip, innuendo, suggestion, and implication. The tongue can ruin reputations, destroy marriages and homes, and separate close friends. It can cause the stock market to rise or fall. Indeed, the tongue is powerful! Read James chapter three.
Jesus warns us about our words. He said, “And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37). Should not that cause every thinking person to have fear in his or her heart concerning such matters? There is, indeed, coming a Judgment Day, and we all will have to give an answer. (2 Corinthians 5:10). So, let us watch our tongues!
The apostle Paul wrote, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29). The wise man wrote, “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross. He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart. Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation. Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” (Proverbs 26:20-28).
Be careful in these matters, brothers and sisters, and “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds…” (Colossians 3:9). -1179 Mark Wayne Drive, Louisa, KY 41230.
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