I have a confession: I am part of the problem.
I am part of the divisiveness in our nation because I use my tongue to bless those in our public discourse with whom I agree and curse those with whom I disagree, even though each represent the likeness of God.
I have not done this blessing or cursing publicly.
I know better than to publicly bless (laud, esteem) those with whom I agree lest my political bent become obvious and I alienate those with whom I disagree.
Nor have I publicly cursed (disparaged, disrespected) those with whom I disagree because I know I’m not supposed to curse anyone made in God’s image. The risk of shame and embarrassment as a church leader are enough to hold my tongue on this score.
However, what is thought in my mind (to which only God and I have the key)—and occasionally said in private to family in my kitchen—well, that’s different.
That’s where it becomes obvious how I really see the ones with whom I disagree.
That’s where it becomes clear I do not see them as bearers of God’s likeness.
Rather, within my mind they exist as alien creatures—dehumanized, unrecognizable as brothers and sisters lovingly created from clay and star dust and brought to life by divine breath.
They will never know this is how I see them because I don’t curse them outright.
But I effectively “say” this when I roll my eyes.
I “say” this when I dismiss their life experience, perspective, and opinions.
I “say” this when I refer to us and them while rolling my eyes because we “know better” than they do, and how can they think that way?
And so, while I may never utter these thoughts out loud, an examination of heart reveals my tongue is, in fact, cursing those made in the image of God.
Stewardship of the Tongue
Preachers typically preach about the stewardship of three T’s: Time, Talent, and Treasure.
But I think it’s time we added a fourth partner to that list: the Tongue.
I’m writing this blog away from home and library, so I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure there’s no other body part that gets as many warnings and rebukes in the Bible as the tongue.
I also wonder which gets more rebukes and warnings: the tongue or money? (I doubt “time” or “talent” even rank for mentions by comparison.)
I suspect the tongue and money get as much press as they do because we are equally self-serving with both.
The way we spend our words is as egregious as the way we spend our money:
Lavishly on ourselves at the expense of others.
Miserly toward others through silence.
Selfishly through self-serving criticism, gossip, or slander.
I, for one, am guilty of all of the above.
Much as being a faithful stewards goes far beyond the weekly discipline of stewarding our treasure by writing a check, stewarding our time by spending Sunday mornings worshiping in a pew, or stewarding our talent by putting it to good use on a committee, being a faithful steward of our tongues is far more than a weekly necessity.
It’s a moment by moment practice and discipline that is central in its ever-pervasive need.
To be faithful stewards of our tongues requires relentless vigilance.
Preaching on the stewardship of words and language is to preach about a gift designed to build up the body of Christ.
Stewarding the tongue will elevate public discourse rather than demean it with cheap and vulgar talk.
Stewarding the tongue will reveal God’s glory that unites us in a living laboratory of love, forgiveness, and seeking equally the welfare of all, even while we disagree on the details.
And this stewardship of the tongue begins with us, Preachers, and what we say in the privacy of our own kitchens—and minds.
Stewardship Sermon Bootcamp
Begins Monday, September 17th.
If you’ve ever dreaded stewardship season or wondered how you could possibly preach authentically on the subject, this is the course for you.
Join this one-week sermon intensive where you’ll dive deeper into your theology of Stewardship to address the fears, insecurities, and false premises around stewardship—and put these sermons in their proper perspective.
By Friday, you’ll have worked through your own stewardship hang-ups to craft a sermon you not only believe in but are excited to preach.