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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Idle talk costs ...!!

Yesterday morning, in my position as a Force Chaplain with Strathclyde Police, I was involved in the annual Service of Remembrance for those serving officers and staff who had died during the previous twelve months. As my colleagues and I prepared for the service, radio microphones were issued to those who would need them. The understandable instruction was given that they should be switched off when not being used. "Don't worry," remarked one clerical colleague, "I don't want to do a Gordon" (showing, incidentally, how quickly and easily a new piece of terminology can become part of the language!). He was, of course, referring to the now infamous incident in which Gordon Brown - the previous Prime Minister of the U.K. - failed to switch his microphone off, and was heard by millions referring to a woman who had had the temerity to ask him a question that had not been carefully rehearsed, as "that woman" and "a bigot". There are many who would claim that that single act cost the Labour Party more votes in the ensuing General election, than any other.

I remembered it this morning when I heard on the radio news that the Chairman of the English Football Association, Lord Triesman, had been recorded making comments to the effect that the Spanish were planning to bribe referees at this summer's World Cup, while also offering their support to Russia's bid for the 2018 World Cup if they were to help. Lord Triesman has, subsequently, resigned from his position with the Association.

That's the problem when unguarded comments are made public! There can be embarrasment; shame; loss of position. It's why we should always be very careful what we say - regardless of who might be around!

In Matt.12:33-37 we find these words of the Lord Jesus recorded: "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you." (my emphasis).

The point is that Almighty God hears every word that I speak; He knows every thought. To be caught, on a recording device, saying something that is later regretted may have temporal consequences; to speak in a way that is displeasing to the Lord, may have eternal consequences!

James wrote: "... if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring." (3:2-12)

Let us emulate the Psalmist: "Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips." (Ps.141:3).

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