That doesn’t change our responsibility to be wise and careful with our words, for they not only reflect what is in our hearts, but they can also, if used foolishly and carelessly, change and distort our hearts, dishonor God, hate our neighbors, and ultimately promote the cause of Satan’s kingdom. James speaks of the tongue as lit by the fire of hell, a world of evil or unrighteousness, a restless evil (James 3:6, 9). If, in fighting the good fight, we begin to look like the world in our use of words—if we become saltless salt and lightless light—what purpose do we have in the kingdom? We may be fighting for Christ but not have the spirit of Christ.
To be clear, this is not about being a mild-mannered pushover, about being passive, about not speaking, and it is not for the faint of heart. It will require a courage we may not think that we have. Some of you are reading this right now and have so identified your way of speaking with the cause of Christ that you cannot imagine that you could be wrong. This way of speaking has provided you with purpose, comfort, and a community. It will take courage for us to examine our hearts, to test the spirits, and to change our source of comfort. It will take courage to step away from the community of like-minded speakers who have liked our posts. Some of us have been keeping our heads down and contenting ourselves with not speaking at all and leaving no digital footprint. It will take courage for us to learn how to speak and leave a positive gospel-shaped digital footprint as you walk forward in Christ.
In this moment—when words have so much power, both against us and in our hands—we may feel small, powerless, threatened, and overwhelmed, and there is such a temptation to find our hope in the use of our words as weapons. In the ninth commandment, God tells us what it looks like to follow Him in the use of our words, and that means that our hope is not about winning the battle with our words but about belonging to Him. In this moment, our hope is in Jesus Christ, the One who loves us and who has already won the battle. The gospel message of King Jesus necessarily defines the way we use our words as weapons. All that energy and power of our words is now controlled by the principle of new kingdom life in Christ and so must be in step with the Spirit. Let us step forward as those who belong to the King and speak in hope—secure, unafraid, and at rest in the knowledge of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us use our words with the accent of heaven.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 18, 2021.