Reflections and Blog

More on Religious Speech

The Bible has a lot to say about speech, even speech offered in worship and service to God. In the Sunday sermon, I mentioned a few cross-references to Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 but had to leave out many more. Therefore, I wanted to share with you some of the other references that go really well with what we heard. I hope that these will help you appreciate Solomon’s teaching even more.

James 1:19-22, This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

Proverbs 20:25, It is a trap for a man to say rashly, “It is holy!”
And after the vows to make inquiry.

1 Timothy 5:22, Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

Leviticus 5:4-6, Or if a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these. So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned. He shall also bring his guilt offering to the Lord for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin.

Ecclesiastes 10:12-14, Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness. Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him?

James 4:13-17, Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Acts 5:1-5, But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.

Questions to Consider:
1. Should Christians always add “if the Lord wills” to statements about the future? How do we hear the writers of Scripture speak? Compare, for example, Acts 18:21; 1 Cor 4:19; Rom 15:22-29; 1 Cor 16:5-9; 2 Cor 13:1-3; and Heb 13:23.
2. We Christians are called to be bold in declaring the exclusive gospel, confronting unrepentant sin, and upholding true doctrine. So how should the principles of carefulness and humility still affect us in these tasks?
3. Does your speech—even your religious speech—reflect a sober and sincere humility?