I'm loving my daily readings from the Old Testament as I work through the Bible this year. Recently, I've been struck by how serious God is about the words we speak and the promises we make.
In a culture where broken promises and half truths seem to be the standard, I scratch my head to think that Isaac couldn't just take back the Blessing he'd been tricked into giving Jacob, and instead give it to the deserving Esau (Gen. 27). How Abraham asked his servant to "put your hand under my thigh and swear by the Lord" to find his son a good wife who wasn't a Canaanite (Gen. 24), and the servant understood the seriousness of the oath.
The first part of this holy life is following thru on what we say we're going to do. When we sign up for a class, it's attending class and doing the work the teacher assigns. It's figuratively telling someone to put their hand under your thigh when you promise to follow up on a project or a ministry assignment. It means living with such integrity that people don't even question that you'll follow through on something you've said you'll do, having a reputation of trustability.
The second part of holy living is making sure that all of our words honor God and honor others.
God's instructions to his people through Moses included things like Ex. 22:28 "You must not dishonor God or curse any of your rulers". How recently have you bad-mouthed your boss? or your RA? Or do I subtly do what what the amplified translation calls "esteem lightly" in my speech by not speaking respectfully of people?
Exodus 23:1 God specifically tells Moses to instruct the people "you must not pass along false rumors". Whether it's gossip or a hunch, or a "concerned prayer request", God knows it's the kind of thing that destroys community AND our credibility as his holy people.
Taming the tongue is a hard discpline. But until ours are under control, it might be a good idea to practice a little more SILENCE.