In the letter of St. Paul to the Colossians, we’re told: “Let the word of Christ rich as it is, dwell in you. In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another. Sing gratefully to God from our hearts in psalms, hymns, and inspired songs. What ever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

The gift of speech is to be used to praise and worship God. It is to be used to create joy and laughter and song. It is meant to persuade us in those things that are for our good and God’s glory. It is to be used to encourage one another in weak ness, to support one another in moments of difficulty, to express our love and care and concern. This gift of speech can bring about forgiveness and reconciliation. Every time we open our mouths it should be to bless and praise, the glory of God and the well being of one another.

Yet we abuse this wonderful gift of God by using it in a way never intended. The Bible is full of admonition against evil talk. We are exhorted to guard against using it for gossip or slander, not use it by lying, by rash judgement, resentment, bitterness, envy, jealousy, malice, obscenity, anger or blasphemy. Because of the pressures of our time to conform in our society, be cause of the patterns of conversation that we have grown up with over the years, we are no longer sensitive to all the ways we can sin, all the ways we can misuse the gift of speech.

There’s a very clear message in the Scriptures. There are certain patterns of speaking and acting that have to do with the old self; once we have been born anew in the power of the Holy Spirit we have to make decisions to put those old habits aside. We need to correct our patterns of speech, in order to build up the body of Christ, our Church, rather than to tear down one another or the Church.

We need to guard our tongues and our lips. We need to put a guard over our minds and hearts. This is necessary not only to protect what we say but to guard what comes into our minds as well. Daily we ought to offer our tongues, our mouths, our lips to the Lord and ask Him to anoint them with the oil of goodness so that our speech may nourish life with the body of Christ and draw others to the Lord.