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Scripture Reading: James 3:1-12

The Deadly Tongue



1.  What takes years to build can take only seconds to tear down.

2.  Tongue can murder the good name and life of another: “it is full of deadly poison” (Jas. 3:8), a sword that slays another (Prov. 12:18).

3.  The tongue can kill reputations, influences, gospel opportunities, Bible studies, relationships, unity and our souls.

4.  Consider how the tongue can be so deadly.



  A.  Gossip, 1 Tim. 5:13 (tattlers, KJV).

    1.  phluaros: “(φλύω, ‘to boil up,’ ‘throw up bubbles’, of water; and since bubbles are hollow and useless things, ‘to indulge in empty and foolish talk’); of persons, uttering or doing silly things, garrulous, babbling, [A. V. tattlers]: 1 Tim. 5:13” (Thayer, 655).

    2.  Gossip is:

      a.  Empty, idle words about others that discredit, not built up.

      b.  Idle talk intended to turn one’s opinion against a person or situation.

      c.  Gossip can be true or false; it is still gossip.

      d.  Often encouraged by idleness (1 Tim. 5:13; 2 Thess. 3:11).

  B.  The Busybody, 1 Tim. 5:13; 2 Thess. 3:11 (A busybody gossips).

    1.  periergos (1 Tim. 5:13): “busy about trifles and neglectful of important matters, esp. busy about other folks’ affairs, a busybody” (Thayer, 502).

    2.  periergazomai (2 Thess. 3:11): “used apparently of a person officiously inquisitive about other’s affairs” (Thayer, 502).

    3.  Derived from ergos, business, employment, that with which any one is occupied; what one undertakes to do, enterprise.

    4.  It is to actively undertake to be involved in the matters of others.

    5.  Meddler in the lives of others, 1 Pet. 4:15 (mischief-maker, RSV).

  C.  Talebearer [“scandal-monger (as travelling about)],” A trafficker in scandalous reports about others, Lev. 19:16 (A talebearer gossips).

    1.  The talebearer is:

      a.  Untrustworthy, Prov. 11:13; 20:19 (reveals confidences).

      b.  Stirs up strife, Prov. 26:20 (hated by God, Prov. 6:19).

      c.  Hurtful, Prov. 18:8 (wounds, KJV); cf. Prov. 17:9.

    2.  A whisperer is a type of talebearer: Speaking evil of one who is absent and not being willing to accuse him to his face.

      a.  A cowardly sin, Rom. 1:29; 2 Cor. 12:20 (Matt. 18:15).

      b.  The action of a hater, Psa. 41:7.

      c.  “Whispering” is the evil of detracting from others, or exciting suspicion against another by dropping hints that they are evil (secrecy, Rom. 1:29).  [*See Whiteside’s comments*]

  D.  Slanderer, 2 Tim. 3:3 (accuse, defame, malign with falsehood).

    1.  diabolos: “Those who are given to finding fault with the demeanor and conduct of others, and spreading their innuendos and criticisms in the church” (Vine, 580).  (1 Tim. 3:11)

      a.  Foolish, Prov. 10:18.

      b.  Slander is driven by pride and envy, Psa. 101:5.

      c.  Overcome slander by overcoming envy and pride.

      d.  Or, be destroyed by God, Psa. 101:5.

    2.  Backbiting is a type of slander, Rom. 1:30; 2 Cor. 12:20.

      a.  katalalos: “a defamer, evil speaker” (Thayer, 332).

      b.  More open and bold than the whisperer, although such a person does not face the accused with his slander.

      c.  Backbiting causes anger, Prov. 25:23.

      d.  Backbiter does not abide with God, Psa. 15:1, 3.



  A.  Refuse the Tasty Morsel, Prov. 26:22.

  B.  Guard Your Tongue, Prov. 13:3; 21:23.

  C.  Ask Yourself these Questions:

    1.  Is it true? Eph. 4:25 (Are you sure?)

    2.  If so, why am I saying this about someone else? (Motive: Hurt?  Impede? Justify self? Deflect attention from my own sin?  Envy?  Pride?  Ambition?)

    3.  What will be the outcome: Harm or good for the person? Eph. 4:29

    4.  Have I talked with the person about whom I am speaking?

  D.  Consider the Result of these Sins: Strife (Prov. 26:20), wounds (Prov. 18:8), trouble for the soul (Prov. 21:23), death (Prov. 18:21).



1.  Idle words bring condemnation, Matt. 12:36.

2.  What we say can send us to hell.

3.  Therefore, restrain the mouth, Psa. 39:1.




By: Joe R. Price

Posted: July 9, 2018