Do You Know People Who Talk Out of Both Sides of Their Mouths?September 17, 2016
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre. — 1 Timothy 3:8
Have you ever known a person who agreed with whomever he was talking to at the moment? When he was with you, he agreed with you. But when he was with someone else who had a different opinion, he agreed with that person. Did that person’s opinion fluctuate so quickly that it nearly shocked you?
It is very difficult to build trust with a person like this because you never know if he is really with you, or if he’s just agreeing with you to your face until he can turn around and disagree with you behind your back. This type of person’s lack of integrity makes it difficult to build a significant relationship with him.
Even if I don’t always like what the members of my ministry team say or think, their honesty is very important to me, for it guarantees truthful relationships. The day a staff member tells me one thing but then turns around and tells a fellow employee something else is the day my trust in that person is disrupted. The apostle Paul called this kind of person “double-tongued” (1 Timothy 3:8).
The Greek word for “double-tongued” is the word dilogos, which is a compound of the words di and logos. The word di means two, and the word logos means words. When compounded together, these two words form the word dilogos, which could be literally translated two-worded. It is the picture of a man or woman who says one thing to one person but a different thing to the next. In other words, people like this are inconsistent in what they tell others. They are so wishy-washy that their opinion is constantly fluctuating, depending on whom they are speaking to at the moment.
This is usually an indication that this person is a people-pleaser. Because he wants everyone to like him, he agrees with whomever he is with at the moment. This is a serious character flaw. In fact, First Timothy 3:8 forbids us from giving this kind of person any prominent place of leadership in the ministry. It is also a principle that should be taken into consideration when looking for a prospective leader in any church, business, or organization.
Truthfulness is necessary so trust can be built between leaders and followers. It is compulsory in marriages, in friendships, and in relationships between employers and employees or between a pastor and his leaders. If a long-term relationship is to be built, trust is not optional — it is essential.
If there is a person in your church, business, or organization who is constantly changing what he says depending on who he is with at the moment, I urge you not to elevate this person into a leadership role. That person doesn’t demonstrate the character that is required in leaders.
Being honest isn’t always easy. Often it is very difficult. But truthfulness is the clearest and most noble path. The challenge we face is learning how to “speak the truth in love” as Ephesians 4:15 commands us.
I’ve learned that the truth isn’t so difficult to hear; it is the way truth is sometimes spoken that can be difficult to hear. It is much easier to hear the truth if it is mixed with love, patience, and understanding. I think you know that cold water thrown in your face is not very enjoyable. In fact, it can be such a chilling experience that you may be tempted to throw it right back! So when you are the one speaking the truth to someone else, ask the Holy Spirit to help you know how to speak your opinion in a non-threatening and respectful manner.
In Ephesians 4:25, the apostle Paul commanded us, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.…” In Greek, the tense of the word “speak” points to habitual action. In other words, God wants you to develop the habit of always telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God! If you are guilty of agreeing with whomever you are talking to at the moment, it’s time for you to ask the Holy Spirit to help you overcome this weakness.
If your opinion is required, be sure to speak exactly what you think and believe. And before you speak, pray for grace to speak the truth kindly. Once you have said what you believe, stick to what you said. If you later decide you were wrong, go back to the person you talked to — your pastor, boss, friend, or so forth — and tell him that you’ve changed your position. That person will appreciate your honesty. On the other hand, if you tell one person one thing and then turn around and say something different to someone else, the first person you spoke with will not understand your behavior. He will view you as a hypocrite who cannot be trusted, as someone who is double-tongued.
But what if you are the leader, pastor, or employer, and you have someone working under your authority who is constantly switching what he says, depending on whom he is talking to? In that case, take Paul’s words to heart. Don’t promote that person to a higher level of responsibility until this habit has been broken. Don’t lay hands on a person who is double-tongued!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, please forgive me for the times I have been two-faced and double-tongued, speaking different things to different people. After reading today’s Sparkling Gem, I realize it is wrong to act this way with those who are over me in authority. They need to be able to rest assured that I am being truthful with them, and now I see that I have given them a cause to doubt my word. Forgive me, and please help me conquer this serious character flaw in my life. Holy Spirit, help me today to uproot this double-tongued tendency from my life. Teach me how to habitually speak the truth!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am not two-faced or double-tongued. When I speak, people know that my word is as good as gold. I do not change my opinion based on the person I am with or what others think of me. What I say I mean, and I am faithful to keep my word. Every day I am growing in grace — and God is making me stronger, better, more dependable, and more truthful every day. I am exactly the kind of person my authorities can rely on!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Do you know a person who is two-faced and double-tongued? Have you seen him sway back and forth in his opinions, depending on whom he is with at the time? How does this fluctuating behavior affect your opinion of that person?
2. Are you guilty of being double-tongued? Have you told your leader one thing and then said something different behind his back to people in the church, business, or organization? If your answer is yes, what does this reveal about your own character?
3. How should you help correct a person who is double-tongued? Do you think you should ignore that person’s dishonesty, or should you confront him in love and try to help him correct this character flaw in his life?