No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.
One way we destroy another person is by our anger. But we can also destroy another person through devaluation. In Matthew 5:22, Jesus said, “Whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court.” The phrase translated as “good-for-nothing” literally means “empty-headed.” When you say somebody is empty-headed, you are devaluing that person–and the God who made them. That is why James 3:8-10 says, “No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. . . . My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”
By the way, just because somebody is not a Christian does not give us the right to devalue them. Remember, God did not view us as worthless or write us off because of our sin; He valued us enough to send Christ to die for us. Do not be guilty of murder by devaluation.
We can also murder somebody by defamation. Jesus continued in Matthew 5:22, “Whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” The Greek word translated as “fool” is “moros,” from which we get our word “moron.” In our language, we think of a moron as a stupid person, but here it means “moral reprobate.” To call somebody a “moros” was to defame their character.
We have plenty of illustrations of that in our country’s history, especially in the political realm. Look at newspaper editorials, campaign ads, and social media posts around election season, and you will find rampant character assassination. Proverbs 11:9 says, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Do not be guilty of destroying somebody by defaming them.
Right now, our country is more divided than it has been since the days of the Civil War. As Christians, we have every right and responsibility to call out the ungodly policies of governing authorities. But just because we disagree with those in authority does not mean we have the right to defame or devalue them. We have no right to use terms like “moron in chief” to describe the president of the United States. Let’s not subscribe to the world’s way of dealing with the disagreements we may have with the government–or with anybody else. Everyone is created in God’s image, and when we speak out against another person by devaluing or defaming them, we are guilty of murder.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Relationships” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org