In Colossians 3:16-17, 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 your hearts in psalms, hymns, and inspired songs.  Whatever 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 weakness, to support one another in difficulty and to express our love.  The gift of speech can bring about forgiveness and reconciliation.  Every time we open our mouths it should be to bless and to praise, to thank God and to bring about the wholeness of one another for the glory of God.

Yet we abuse this 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 to sin by lying, by rash judgement, resentment, bitterness, envy, jealousy, malice, obscenity, anger, or blasphemy.  Because of the pressures to conform in our society, because 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 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 tear it down. 

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 good news so that our speech may nourish life with the body of Christ and draw others to the Lord.