Friday, November 4, 2011

Tending Your Tongue

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine.

There are probably two reasons why some warnings against some sins are given more often in Scripture than others. First, it may have something to do with the power of a particular temptation. It is certainly a sin to, for instance, put scars all over your body. But God need only say that once in Scripture and that is enough. Not difficult to understand or resist doing, at least for most of us. (Of course, once is enough for any sin.) Conversely, God tells us often to beware the temptation to covet, because it seduces so many of us so often. I’m sure I don’t need to give examples here. The second reason some sins carry more warnings in scripture may be the damage that comes from those particular sins. Adultery isn’t simply a matter of hurting the feelings of the offended spouse (though surely there is nothing simple or light about that); it sprouts all manner of other evil. Therefore, God speaks about adultery often.

How often does God warn us against the sins of the tongue, especially us ladies, and especially referring to gossip? If we would beat this sin, we must face the truth that we are given to it. Perhaps it would help if we understand why. Women tend to be more relational, which means in part that we are interested in how other people are relating to each other. If, for instance, Mr. and Mrs. Jones are late for a dinner date with us, and we learn that they had a flat tire on the way, I would wonder how frustrated each of them must have been, since I already knew Mrs. Jones had had a difficult day at home. R.C., on the other hand, might wonder about what kind of jack the Joneses have in their car, and where they might get the best deal on a new tire. He’s like that.

This relational bent that we ladies have may be exacerbated (read: elevated to the nth degree) by our calling to be keepers at home. That is, because we are still somewhat worldly, we feel that we are missing out on what is happening out in the world (or in our friends’ kitchens and on their porches, etc.) What is happening, I hope, is that our children are being fed and directed in the ways of the Lord and that we are showing hospitality to family and God’s people. One of RC’s frustrations is that when he comes home tired and wanting rest, I can’t wait to hear what’s going on, "out there." Did you see so-and-so? What did they say? How is so and so feeling? Anything happening with their house?

The solution, as with much of our lives, is that we would learn to tend our gardens. That doesn’t mean we don’t care for and pray for others and their needs. We just don’t have our world revolving around ‘news.’ We don’t need to be the first one to share information with others, convincing ourselves it’s so that others can pray. Encouragement to pray is a good thing. Needing to be the one in the know that tells everyone else is not. And if that regularly describes us, I don’t see how we would have the time to be doing the things we should.

I need to know – do I need to know this information? This applies whether I am interrogating my husband for information or talking over the backyard fence with coffee cup in hand. I need to not only not start gossip, I need to know how to stop it. I hate the idea of embarrassing anyone, just as I hate the idea of being embarrassed. But might we not help each other beat this sin if we make it our habit to politely ask each other, “Do I need to know this?” “Is this my business or would it just be interesting to hear?” I’m not saying we can’t pass along happy news. Part of the question ought to be, “Would I say this in this way if the person involved were actually in the room listening?”

We need to remember, in this age of exalting information, that we don’t need information, we need sanctification. It’s not going to help me in having a gentle and quiet spirit to know that Suzy had her nails done yesterday or that Rachel’s new car cost how much?!! Insignificant information is not going to help me help my children pursue godliness. Also, I don’t know about you, but I believe that adage about losing brain cells with each pregnancy. I can’t afford anymore to fill my head with information that doesn’t concern me. Anytime I’m tempted to listen to something I shouldn’t, I should remember what we tell our children when they’re being nosy about their siblings’ business: it’s not your concern. We’ve taught them that so well that when one asks why another one was disciplined, at least one of them will say to the questioner, “Not your concern.” Period. End of story. I should strive to be that cut-and-dried about my own need to know. We need to hunger to grow in grace, not to grow in being in the know.

And as always, we need to remember that there is one who not only knows everything, but knows us as well. We need to rest in His sovereignty, knowing that He works all things for His good pleasure. He will tend those things that are not in our gardens, because everything is His garden. He may use our prayers as a means to certain ends, but He will do just fine without our meddling. The world won’t collapse if we don’t know certain things. And we need to know that He loves us, that there is our peace, our security and our adventure. Stop looking ‘out there’ for those things that only He can give. We need to learn and remember this over and over again until we know it in full. That’s one of the most important things we should seek to know.

By Denise Sproul

No comments: