By Mike and Julie McGhghy
In this second article regarding holiness, we will present the most important element of holiness, which is our attitude, and how that attitude is manifested by the tongue. Although attitudes are not readily observable by others, they become obvious to others who are with us very much at all or who follow us on social media. Our attitudes come from deep within us, from our hearts.
Consider Jesus’ words to the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:25-28, when He told them that they “make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.” Jesus was talking about having good outward appearance but neglecting the condition of the inside, the heart. When obvious, external holiness practices are evident in our lives, but inward holiness as evidenced by a controlled attitude and tongue is lacking, we are being separated unto God (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) but not dedicated to God (Romans 12:1). We are then not living a holy life!
What is the basic attitude that distinguishes true Christians from the world? Love. Love for God and others. Matthew 22:36-40. When living a holy life, we love God and want to do His perfect will by striving to be like Him as much as possible, trying to avoid anything that is not like Him, and wanting to obey Him and please Him even in areas that seem from a human viewpoint to be unnecessary and trivial. And this love is evident, not just when we are ministering to people, but in our casual communication with others in person, in writing, and on social media.
When our actions, even holiness disciplines, are not motivated by love for God and for others, our holiness is worthless and it will lead to hypocrisy. By analyzing ourselves against the evidence of improper attitudes listed in Ephesians 4:31-32 (bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, malice), we can tell when our holiness disciplines are not properly motivated by love. If we find these evil attitudes in ourselves, we need to replace them with being kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving, which is based on love, involves bearing the cost of someone else’s mistake, gives up our own rights in certain situations, and ignores certain things even when we know we are correct.
It is through the tongue, which is the most difficult member of the body to control and has the potential for causing the most harm, that improper attitudes manifest themselves. Matthew 12:34; Matthew 15:18; James 3:8. We control our tongue through complete submission to God. In James 3:13-18, James makes it clear that it is easy for us to sin with the tongue, that the tongue is very dangerous, and that sinning with the tongue can completely destroy our holiness. Sins with the tongue include talebearing and gossip, sowing discord, swearing, improper use of the name of the Lord, filthy communications, piercing remarks, lying and bearing false witness, and idle words, all of which are born in our attitudes. Jesus views what we say so important that He explained that a man will be justified or condemned by his words. Matthew 12:36-37. James confirms this importance: A man with an unbridled tongue has a vain, useless form of religion. James 1:26. We don’t want the world, those we seek to minister to, to view our faith as a useless form of religion because of what we say or write, whether in person or on social media.
Currently in the United States there exists extreme political division and we are bombarded with very divisive communication in the media, as well as in our own conversations and social media posts. It is always proper to voice support for political positions based on our love for God and others and to oppose positions that are against God’s teaching. When we do so, we must always be aware of our attitudes that are evidenced in our communication. Does our communication evidence our love for God and others or could it be viewed as motivated by bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice? We must be careful to avoid the sins of the tongue when expressing our political views.
At all times, as children of God and ASR members, we strive to live holy in our attitudes, actions, and communication, as is pleasing unto God. God working through our holiness coupled with our ASR patch will help us effectively minister to others and see people respond to God in repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, and receiving the Holy Ghost.