By Brianna Hines
Grumbling. What a funny word. When I hear it, I often think of Winnie the Pooh’s stomach grumbling for honey. Nobody likes a grumbler though, do they? A grumbler is someone who has negative opinions about something but only makes enough of a fuss to cause more problems, offering no solutions and vehemently mumbling indecipherable words under their breath.
Jude had a lot to say about people who couldn’t control their tongues. In his letter, Jude called out false teachers by their ungodly deeds AND their ungodly words. In verses 15-16, he revealed specific ways these ungodly sinners spoke against God using their tongues — with harsh words, grumbling, malcontent, loud-mouthed boasting, and favoritism. As we all know, it is not just false teachers who can be guilty of these sins. Believers can just as easily fall prey to the temptations of the unruly tongue.
Jesus spoke of the power of the tongue when confronting the Pharisees: “How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:34–37).
Jesus didn’t mince words here. He was telling the Pharisees then, and telling us today, we will be held responsible for the words that come out of our mouth, either to justify us or to condemn us. Jesus also explained to His disciples that “what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart” (Matthew 15:18).
God calls us in His Word to use our tongues to proclaim “only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Peter urged his readers to repay insults with blessings, so we may inherit a blessing from God. He quotes from Psalm 34 when he wrote, “The one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit” (1 Peter 3:9-10).
In our culture today, we have many platforms from which we can use our tongues to proclaim words that either build up or tear down. In the span of a single morning we have the ability to speak to our children or spouse, text a coworker, email our boss, post a comment or article on social media, call a friend, and maybe even write a blog post! We have a plethora of opportunities each hour to use our tongues! Are we considering the weight of responsibility that Jesus cautioned comes along with these opportunities to speak?
A sin of the tongue that I see running rampant in our culture today is disrespect for authority. Especially in the current political climate, it is easy to get sucked into the grumbling, malcontent, harsh words, and favoritism that are constantly being hurled from both sides of the political fence. Peter, when writing to Christians scattered by political persecution, urged his readers to “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him… for such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:13-15). Peter knew that our ultimate submission should be to God, and for the Lord’s sake, we respect in word and deed, publically as well as privately, the authorities whom God has allowed to be in leadership over us.
Romans 13:1-2 tells us to “let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command.” The chapter continues, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7, emphasis mine). We are even urged by Timothy to pray, intercede, and give thanks “for kings and all those who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Instead of grumbling about our government, we should be praying and giving thanks for them!
Ouch. If I am honest, my prayer time rarely moves toward political leaders, especially those with whom I disagree. I am much more likely to grumble about all of the things I see going wrong than to give thanks for those in positions of authority. God’s Word doesn’t give exceptions for leaders we deem undeserving of our respect and honor. It makes it very clear that every husband, pastor, boss, PTA president, elder, governor, senator, law enforcement officer, principal, professor, judge, and president should get our respectful submission, especially with the words of our tongues — or keyboards.
I don’t know about you, but if I believe what Jesus told the Pharisees, on the day of judgment I want to give an account to Him for as few careless words as possible. I can’t imagine He will accept the argument of anyone who grumbled, spoke harshly, or was malcontent about someone His Father had established in authority. As His children, it won’t go well for us to disrespect the babysitter.
This week while studying Jude, I have been convicted to be thoughtful and intentional about the words that come off my tongue, especially if that means holding my tongue. As is says in Proverbs, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise” (17:28). I would much rather be a silent fool than risk giving an account to Jesus for my careless words that led others away from Him or disrespected the true authority of our Heavenly Father. My prayer today is that of the Psalmist: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (19:14).
Brianna Hines and her husband Lewis are Oregon natives and have three incredible kids with a fourth on the way. They moved to Eugene in 2017 when Lew joined the UFC family as worship pastor. Brianna is involved with the mom’s gathering, women’s ministry, and Sunday morning worship at UFC and loves all of the opportunities to get involved at this church. For fun, she enjoys gardening, building things (currently a tree house), reading, hosting, and Sabbath time at home with the family.