by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 28 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Justice)

'And the tongue is afire, 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." James 3:6

The tongue defiles the entire body. What we see and hear defiles the tongue. When you tell me something evil, you defile my ear, which defiles my tongue, which defiles my entire body. I must therefore not allow anyone to tell me something which can defile my entire body. That is what I covered in the previous chapter.

In this chapter we are once again going to draw our lesson from James 3, but this time from a different angle.

When you give me something that could destroy my character, not only are you hurting me, but you are also forcing me to hurt others. Not only have you destroyed my character, but you have forced me to destroy someone else's character because what you tell me in my ear, I cannot help but speak. You not only destroy me, but you cause me to become a destroyer. Whom will I destroy? The answer is obvious: I will destroy the very ones whom I love the most, for they are the likely ones to hear anything I tell.

I am going to make eight observations in this direction.

1. When you hear, you must tell.

2. When you tell me, I must tell. I cannot help it, for it has been planted into my mind. Then I corrupt the person I tell. That makes me a destroyer. You can promise not to repeat what you are told, but you cannot help it. If you do not have enough resistance not to listen, you will not have enough resistance not to tell. When you tear down the wall by listening, you tear down all the discipline to avoid defiling your entire body. Tragically, you also become a destroyer of other people's character.

3. We are going to tell the people we love the most. Therefore, we destroy the character of the people we love the most. When you listen, you put at risk the people you love the most. If you do not listen, you cannot tell it. If you can keep it from entering through your eyes or ears, you will not know it to tell it, and then the ones you love the most won't hear it either!

4. They must tell. Those who I love the most must tell what they have heard, so if I tell them, they must tell.

5. I become an enemy to those I love the most. Near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a place called Three Mile Island, where they had an atomic contamination. I went to that area to preach, but I did not get near the contaminated area. If I had gone to the contaminated area, not only could I have become contaminated, but I could have brought it back and contaminated those who are the dearest to me.

There are some contaminated people whom we ought to avoid! If we do not avoid them, we risk being contaminated and then contaminating those we love the most. We ought to avoid those contaminated people like we would avoid a person with a highly contagious incurable disease. Stay away from them!

When I was a child, they quarantined people because they did not have all the miracle drugs we have today. My sister contacted scarlet fever. A sign was placed on her door warning people to stay away. She was quarantined. Gossips and slanderers ought to be quarantined so that they do not contaminate you and cause you to contaminate those you love the most.

A man who once taught at Hyles-Anderson College used his tongue to take 40 students with him to start his own college. He never got his college started, and his ministry failed. Tragically, he destroyed the lives of those 40 students. That kind of man ought to be quarantined!

6. For the sake of those I love the most, I must not hear. What I hear, I must speak, because it enters my mind.

7. If they hear it, they must tell it. If I tell one person a week the garbage I know, and if they each tell one person a week, in six months we will have corrupted 65,050,400 people. Imagine! Sixty-five million people defiled because I knew something that I should not have known and would not have known if I had refused to listen! I would rather spend a day with a person with AIDS than with a person with an evil tongue, because I would rather die with character and AIDS than live with no character!

The person who is trying to hurt someone with slander actually defiles each and every person who hears the slander and all the people they love. It does not defile the person being slandered. It defiles those who hear it and then must speak it. It has been said that we always hurt the ones we love. In this case, it is true!

8. If you cannot prevent getting it yourself, you can avoid spreading it to those around you. For your sake and for the sake of those you love the most, flee from the words of evil men!


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I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years. Billy Sunday