One of the best books I ever stole is called The Greatest Words in the Bible and in Human Speech by Clarence Edward McCartney. Yeah I said, "stole"...sorta like borrowed for an extended period of time...from my dad's library. He knows I've got the book now (he reads my blog all the time)!
Anyway, this book was written in 1938, (I think my copy is one of the originals) 1938! and is a gem. I frequently pull it off the shelf and read a chapter or two and ruminate on things from the sublime to the ridiculous. It's simple, it's got crazy 'worketh' language, it's a bit pie-in-the-sky, but it has a certain...truth and profundity that is like finding candles in a power-outage. Here's a clip to ponder:

What is the meanest word because it is the most cowardly word? What is the meanest word because it is the cruelest word? What is the word that is conceived in malignity and born in hatred? What is the word that many use lightly and carelessly, and yet thereby ally themselves with the cruel and cowardly man? What is the word that has destroyed friendships, disrupted churches, devastated homes, engendered war and strife, saddened and clouded the lives of men and women? What is the word that the devil first used in the Garden of Eden when he spoke against God, and which he has employed ever since? What is the word that has broken more hearts than any other? What is the word that has the lowest and softest sound and accent, and yet the loudest and noisiest echo? That word is "whisperer." "A whisperer separateth chief friends." -- Proverbs 16:28
The Old Testament description of the godly man still stands. "Who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness and speaketh the truth in his heart, he that backbiteth not in his tongue, nor doeth evil against his neighbor, nor taketh up reproach against his neighbor." In the Royal Gallery in London, there is a portrait of himself by Salvatora Rosa. In his right hand he holds a placard on which are written in Latin these words: "Either keep silence, or speak things better than silence."

Here's how Eugene Peterson conceives of that Proverbs 16 verse: "Troublemakers start fights; gossips break up friendships." Just a bit more 'in your face' eh! Or here's his take on the other passage: "God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? "Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor;"

This is what the bible refers to as letting our speech be 'seasoned' with grace. Speaking the truth is good and necessary, but speaking the truth in love is essential--is a Jesus trait. Not only what we say, but also how we say it is crucial to healthy communication. And gossiping (unless it's the good kind) is like eating rotten meat.

If you are tempted to reveal
A tale someone to you has told
About another, make it pass,
Before you speak, three gates of gold--
Three narrow gates: first, 'Is it true?'
Then 'Is it needful?' In your mind
Give truthful answer. And the next
Is last and narrowest: 'Is it kind?'
And if, to reach your lips at last,
It passes through these gateways three,
Then you may tell the tale, nor fear
What the result of speech may be.



  1. Ah Ha !!! So that is were it went.
    The Holy Spirit must have been whispering in your conscience... be sure your sin will find you out.
    Otherwise...it is a great thought provoking blog.

  2. Now I know where all the "good" books went. You might want to keep really good track of your library when I'm around.

  3. Now I know where all the "good" books went. You might want to keep really good track of your library when I'm around.