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Heidelberg Catechism Meditations (337)

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October 22 – LD 43, Day 1: The Power of the Tongue

Friday the 22nd of October

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

Proverbs 10:19: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”

It is immediately evident from Prov 10 that the tongue is a powerful instrument. It is a power for good; it is also a power for evil. It builds up; it also destroys. It gives expression to wisdom; it also gives expression to utter foolishness and brings destruction. The tongue is a well of life when used by the righteous man to give expression to God’s truth; but it is a tool of violence when used to oppose the truth. A man shows that he is a fool, says the inspired writer, when he uses his tongue to propagate slander and to speak lies, and the mouth of the wicked speaks frowardness. But “the lips of the righteous know what is acceptable” before God (Prov 10:32). So the conclusion may be found in Prov 10:19, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” How careful we must be with the use of our tongues, our mouths. That is the essence of the ninth commandment. 

A most destructive sin is the evil use of the tongue. So James wrote in Jam 3:5-6, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” In the words of our Catechism, the tongue can call down “the heavy wrath of God.” Our consideration of this ninth commandment is a matter of urgency. And our attitude towards this Word of God exposes us for what we are. James put it this way in Jam 1:26: “If anyman among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”

So once again, as those redeemed by Christ, as those who love His Word of truth and therefore those who humble ourselves before Him, we express our desire. “Teach thou us, Father. We desire to walk in the way of thy commandments. For we love Thee, and would express to Thee our gratitude.”

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