James 1: 26 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
This presidential election is unlike any other. Like some of you, I watched the “town hall” forum which was supposed to show presidential candidates trying to answer questions from independent voters but like me, you probably saw very little of those voters and heard very few of their questions. At times it seemed they were hardly there. I thought I would see two people trying to relate to real people; instead the focus of the night was on character assassination of the other candidate.
I have studied communication all my working life and I hold it in high regard. Having the ability to be able to take your ideas, choose the best words and say those words to another human being is no small task. Recreating your idea in the mind of another through the use of words is a minor miracle. We should not take this skill lightly.
Yet Sunday night, I heard one candidate say “It’s just words.”
That struck me as a very weak way to excuse the words that were being used. No, those words were not “just words.”
Let’s go back to James 3: 3-8 “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
James holds the tongue in high regard and truly the tongue [words] can “corrupt” the whole body.
In short, it matters what we say. We need to take control of our tongue and carefully consider the words we say.
I know you have heard it said that this is an election like no other. One party is being fractured due to things their candidate is saying. Many in that party are chastising the candidate and withdrawing their support—over words that he has said.
The other party has a candidate who has low trustworthy factors due to her inability to answer questions about her words, in emails and in her “behind-closed-doors” speeches. It seems she says one thing and then does another.
As Christians, how are we to deal with this?
We all know of the Ninth Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness against Thy Neighbor”.
Yet Fact Check.org called Sunday night’s debate a “mountain of false and misleading statements”.* I encourage you to check out the “facts” the candidates used and see how many times they bore false witness.
Truly this election is unlike any other. Some cynics may say things like “it is just politics.” Lying is just part of the game. But for some of us, bearing false witness on such a monumental scale is just not acceptable.
I refer you to John 1: 14 “ The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Let us recall two thousand years ago, a Roman governor asked a wrongly accused prisoner who stood before him, “What is truth?” That Roman’s name was Pontius Pilate and the prisoner was Jesus Christ.
Jesus did not respond to Pilate’s question during this encounter. At least we do not have a record of it if He did. Apparently, Pilate walked away from the question that day and simply washed his hands of the ordeal. At least he thought he did. Christ did answer the question elsewhere. His actions were his answer.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats”
“Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” [1 Peter 2]
He kept a tight rein on His tongue.