Proverbs 10:18

He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

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Here are two easy ways to sin with your speech. You can be a hypocrite and use polite words to deceive people and hide the bitterness and envy in your heart. Or you can spread false and malicious rumors about a person to others. These two sins are in great supply today. Transparent honesty and integrity – clearly visible and known by all – are rare.

Reader, do you see what the wise man Solomon wrote next? He wrote, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Pr 10:19). It is hard to speak much and not sin – for every sentence raises the chance of sin. So the Preacher gave the wise advice of closing your lips and not talking so much (Pr 17:27-28; Jas 1:19).

When the prophet Isaiah saw the LORD, he was in terror for the sins of his lips (Is 6:1-7). He said, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Is 6:5). A right view of God will cause you to hate your speech (Ps 4:4)!

The blunt apostle James had no mercy for the tongue. He said, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (Jas 3:6). He said, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (Jas 3:8).

Your tongue is called your glory for praising God (Ps 16:9; 30:12; 57:8; Acts 2:26). But it also curses men. “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (Jas 3:9-10).

You are a fool, if you hide hatred with polite words. Instead of forgiving others and ending conflict, fools cover hatred in their hearts with lies. It is horrible when such evil is in the church. David prayed to be delivered from such hypocrites, whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood and their mouths speak empty pretensions (Ps 144:7-8,11).

You are a fool, if you talk against others. Slander is lying to spread false information or innuendoes about others. Backbiting, talebearing, and whispering are telling the truth about another, but it is information that damages another’s character and reputation. The sin of slander is a violation of the Sixth Commandment against killing, and only very wicked men with evil hearts do it. Limit yourself to saying good things about others.

If you are wise, your tongue is your glory – to praise God and edify others (Ps 30:12; 108:1). It is a precious gift to send worship upward and to feed those around you. If you are a fool, it is your curse – a tool of hypocrisy and murder. It is easy to lie and run others down when they and witnesses are not present to refute you. Be wise (Pr 18:21; Eph 4:29; Col 4:6)! You will give account for every word from your mouth (Matt 12:34-37).