The Biblical Way of Perfection

About a week ago our family returned to the US for the holidays and to begin training for our new mission post in the country of Peru (more info to follow in subsequent posts).  We arrived last Sunday morning and immediately got a stomach virus that knocked us out for a few days.  We found ourselves grumpy and a bit out of our element occasionally arguing and complaining or finding fault with each other and those around us.  During the midst of a tough day the Lord spoke to me and told me to keep a better guard over my tongue.  I received a verse from James 3:2 that says that if you can control your tongue you would be perfect.  That’s right, perfect.  The tongue is so powerful a vessel that it can make or break us in the spiritual life.  With that in mind I began to study what God’s Word says about our speech and found my self sadly lacking.  I had read of saints who focused their examination of conscience on particular faults or sins thereby helping to change bad habits and behaviors that displeased God.  I have contrived a handy examination of conscience that one could do each day to help become perfect in speech.  If we could just speak as He spoke we would change our lives and destinies forever.  Please consider the following examination as a way to form the perfect tongue and the perfect person.  God bless you and more to come soon. P.S. Our computer was recently stolen along with all our memory cards and pictures so no picture will accompany this post.

Particular Examination of the Tongue

James 3:2 For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect

and could also control ourselves in every other way.

Opening Prayers and Reflections

Isaiah 6:5 “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Sirach 22:27 – 23:6 Who will set a guard over my mouth, and upon my lips an effective seal, That I may not fail through them, that my tongue may not destroy me? LORD, Father and Master of my life, permit me not to fall by them! Who will apply the lash to my thoughts, to my mind the rod of discipline, That my failings may not be spared, nor the sins of my heart overlooked; Lest my failings increase, and my sins be multiplied; Lest I succumb to my foes, and my enemy rejoice over me? LORD, Father and God of my life, abandon me not into their control! A brazen look allow me not; ward off passion from my heart, Let not the lustful cravings of the flesh master me, surrender me not to shameless desires.

Matthew 15:11 It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Matthew 12:37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

EDIFICATION – HAVE I BUILT UP OR DESTROYED?

  1. Have I spoken today so as always to build up my neighbor?

  • Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

    2. Have my words brought healing to my neighbor at all times or have I broken his/her spirit?

  • Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

      3. Would those listening to my speech be “given grace”or be encouraged by my subject matter and/ or my delivery?

  • Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

GENTLENESS – HAVE MY WORDS BEEN DELIVERED WITH GENTLY OR WITH UNNECESSARY FORCE?

  1. Have I provoked those around me (teammates, spouse, children etc.) to anger or discouraged them?

  • Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

  1. Have I answered another in anger or raised my voice to defend myself?

  • Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

SLOW TO SPEAK – HAVE I CONSIDERED WELL WHAT I NEED TO SAY?

  1. Have I corrected my neighbor without sufficient reflection or hastily judged without knowing all the facts?

  • James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

  1. Have I corrected without listening to their side or in anger?

  • James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

  1. Have I judged another and/ or spoken about them without considering my own weaknesses?

  • Romans 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

  1. Have I spoken without sufficient reflection?

  • Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

  1. If angry did I ask God for patience or speak out in anger?

  • Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

TRUTHFULNESS – HAVE MY WORDS BEEN TRUE?

  1. Have I lied about another person?

  • 1 Peter 3:10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.

  • James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

  • Psalm 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

  • Exodus 20:16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  1. Have the words I have said been completely true or only possibly/ probably true?

  • Psalm 15:1-3 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend,

  1. Have I spread a false report or a report that was possibly false?

  • Exodus 23:1 “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.

  1. Has anything I said today damaged the reputation of another in any way?

  • Psalm 101:5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

  • Proverbs 10:18 The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.

  • Leviticus 19:16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

CARELESSNESS – Have the words I spoke today been necessary? Have they been said for god’s glory?

  1. Have my words been necessary? i.e. would it have been better to keep silent?

  • Matthew 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

  1. Have I spoken simply to kill time or merely to have something to say?

  • 1 Timothy 5:13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.

  • Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

  1. Have I talked too much?

  • Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

  • Ecclesiastes 5:3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.

  1. Have I tried to restrain myself in my speech speaking less than I wanted?

  • Proverbs 17:27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

COURTESY – HAVE I BEEN CONSIDERATE IN MY SPEECH?

  1. Have I considered the feelings of others when I spoke?

  • Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

  1. Have I spoken of others as I want to be spoken of?

  • Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

  • Matthew 7:12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

COVERING OFFENSES – HAVE I OVERLOOKED OTHERS OFFENSES IN LOVE?

  1. If wronged, did I seek to “cover my offense praying for the one who injured me and if necessary speaking to them about it?

  • Proverbs 17:9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

  1. Have I spoken against another in secret?

  • Proverbs 26:20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

  1. Have I spoken behind another persons back?

  • 1 Peter 2:1-2 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

  1. Have I tried to get the upper hand in an argument defending myself in anger?

  • Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

  1. Have I been quarrelsome or argued needlessly when it would have been better to let it go?

  • Proverbs 17:27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

  1. Have I built up my spouse/ child/ family member/ teammate or brought them down in other people’s eyes?

  • Psalm 50:20 You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.

  1. If in an argument did I explain myself with gentleness or used other tactics simply to win?

  • I Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

KINDNESS – HAVE I SPOKEN WITH KINDNESS?

  1. Have I corrected or disagreed with kindness?

  • Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

  1. Have I forgiven any unkind words I received today?

  • Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

  1. Has my speech been gracious? Have I given the benefit of the doubt to others?

  • Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

OBSCENE TALK – HAVE I SPOKEN UNCLEAN WORDS?

  1. Have I used obscenities?

  • Colossians 3:7-8 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

  1. Could I re-say everything I said today in Jesus’ name? Would Jesus have said it that way?

  • Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

  1. Have I used God’s name as a swear word?

  • Sirach 23:9 Do not accustom your mouth to oaths, or habitually utter the Holy Name.

  1. Have I spoken coursely or rudely?

  • Sirach 23:13 Do not accustom your mouth to coarse talk, for it involves sinful speech.

  1. Have I joked in a crude manner?

  • Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

UNITY – HAVE MY WORDS UNITED OR SEPARATED?

  1. Have my words helped strengthen bonds of friendship among those listening?

  • Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

  1. If wronged, have I prayed for my wrongdoer and blessed them or have I wronged them in return?

  • 1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

  1. Has my language been abusive?

  • Sirach 23:15 Those accustomed to using abusive language will never acquire discipline as long as they live.

  1. Have I joined in a needless argument?

  • 2 Timothy 2:23-25 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

  • 2 Timothy 2:14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

SECRECY – HAVE I KEPT SECRETS?

  1. Have I spread secrets or spread private information about another person?

  • Proverbs 11:13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

  • Sirach 19: 6-8 Whoever repeats gossip has no sense. Never repeat gossip, and no one will reproach you. Tell nothing to friend or foe; and unless it be a sin for you, do not reveal a thing.

  • Sirach 19:10 Let anything you hear die with you; never fear, it will not make you burst!

  1. Have I associated with or listened to a person revealing private information that wasn’t my business?

  • Proverbs 20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

  1. Have I listened to secrets?

  • Proverbs 18:8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.

  1. Have I kept to my own affairs? Do I want to know others’ secrets? (Celebrities, politicians, etc.)

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:11 And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.

  1. Have I asked my neighbor about their secret if needs be or have I shared it to others?

  • Proverbs 25:9-10 Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end.

  • Sirach 19: 13-15 Admonish your friend—he may not have done it; and if he did, that he may not do it again. Admonish your neighbor—he may not have said it; and if he did, that he may not say it again. Admonish your friend—often it may be slander; do not believe every story.

  • Sirach 19: 17 Admonish your neighbor before you break with him; and give due place to the Law of the Most High.

  1. Have I believed rumors?

  • Proverbs 14:15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

  1. Have I given ear to gossip or slander?

  • Proverbs 17:4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.

  1. Have I gossiped?

  • Sirach 28: 13 Cursed be gossips and the double-tongued, for they destroy the peace of many.

  • Romans 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
  1. Have I attempted to learn secrets of others?

  • Sirach 28: 14-16 A meddlesome tongue subverts many, and makes them refugees among peoples. It destroys strong cities, and overthrows the houses of the great. A meddlesome tongue drives virtuous women from their homes, and robs them of the fruit of their toil. Whoever heed it will find no rest, nor will they dwell in peace.

COMPLAINING/ GRUMBLING – HAVE I ACCEPTED GOD’S WILL IN MY LIFE TODAY?

  1. Have I grumbled?

  • Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning,

  1. Have I complained about another?

  • James 5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

  1. Have I complained when I was put out by another?

  • 1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

  1. Have I given thanks in all circumstances or complained?

  • 1 Thessalonians Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

  1. Have you grumbled about your leader, boss, authority?

  • Exodus 16: 8 because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.

  1. Have you striven to be content in every circumstance?

  • Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

  1. Have you complained when asked to do what you did not want to do?

  • Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

End prayer

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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