As Jesus originally instituted His church, it is to be many people coming together to make one body working together to accomplish God's will.
1 Cor. 12:12-13 "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit."
1 Cor. 12:24-25 "which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another."
Eph. 1:22-23 "And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."
We are to be one unified body under Christ, serving Him. A careless mouth can undo this relationship.
Prov. 13:10 "By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom."
To be insolent is to be rude, disrespectful, and contemptuous. It is easy to see why Solomon warns that such speech causes strife. Wisdom leads us in another direction.
Prov. 16:21 "The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness."
Prov. 16:23 "The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips."
If we want to be considered wise, our speech should be judicious, or thoughtful. If we want people to listen to us without a fight, our speech should be persuasive. Such is helped by sweetness of speech, not insolence. We need to take care how we speak of our brethren.
Prov. 11:12 "Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent."
To speak ill of another just doesn't make any sense. All it does is cause fights and destroy relationships. The wise man knows when to keep his mouth closed. That leads us to the topic of gossip.
Prov. 16:28 "A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends."
A whisperer separates even close friends. This reminds me of Iago from the Shakespeare play Othello. At the beginning of the play, Othello is a strong, confident man, a leader widely respected and trusted by the highest authorities. Then Iago becomes offended and begins a whispering campaign. He spreads lies, rumors, and innuendoes until Othello is a broken man, having lost his wife, his job and his confidence. All because Iago whispered. This kind of thing cannot happen in the church.
Prov. 17:9 "Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends."
This happens all too often, even by those who, in all innocence, mean nothing by it. Random, happy babbling can cause as many problems as the determined whisperer. Again, the wise man knows when to keep his mouth shut. I am naturally curious about all things. That has led me at times to be nosy. One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn is that I don't need to know everything about everyone around me. And, if I do know something, I don't have to tell my friends all about it. I'm still working on that one. Even innocent babbling can cause strife, and not all are innocent.
Prov. 24:28-29 "Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips. Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
Revenge is not a good reason to gossip. We cannot allow ourselves to speak ill of someone just because we are angry with them.
Prov. 12:6 "The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers them."
Prov. 11:9 "With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered."
Notice how these people are described, who want to destroy others with their words: wicked and godless. If we want any hope of Heaven, we cannot allow those descriptions to ever fit us. That means we need to watch our verbal attacks on others.
Sometimes gossip isn't fueled by anger and revenge, but that doesn't make it any better.
Prov. 18:8 "The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body."
Prov. 26:22 "The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body."
Another case where Solomon repeats himself. It must be important. Gossip is fun. Most of us do it, not out of maliciousness, but because we like the juice. It's satisfying to know what is going on. It is titillating to hear secrets about others. But, who are we getting this juice from? The whisperer. The one who separates close friends. I may not be malicious about it, but in listening and passing on gossip, I am participating in something that could destroy the fabric of God's family. And that is evil.
Prov. 20:19 "Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler."
It is amazing how much the fighting and bickering dies down when gossip ceases. When no one is whispering, few are fighting.
Prov. 26:20 "For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases."
When the kindling runs out, so does the fire. The whispering feeds the fights. The church with few whisperers is also the church that is closer and tighter knit. We cannot allow ourselves to be the person who continues fighting and dividing the church.
Prov. 26:21 "As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife."
Another similar issue of misusing our mouths that can cause problems for the church is false flattery.
Prov. 29:5 "A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet."
The ancient Israelites spread nets to catch birds. So, the flatterer is laying traps for the people he flatters. He is trying to bring them in and secure them before they know who he really is. Instead of flattery, the wise man prefers correction.
Prov. 28:23 "Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue."
Prov. 25:12 "Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear."
The rebuke and the reproof are to keep us on the straight and narrow. In the long run, they are far more valuable than the short term warmth of flattery. We should watch out for the gushers, listen closely to the constructive critics, and determine that we won't allow ourselves to be the kind of person who influences through false flattery.
There are two ways we can use our mouths. Each has a consequence.
Prov. 29:8 "Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath."
Prov. 11:11 "By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown."
How am I going to use my mouth today?