IT’S ALWAYS SAID in a spirit of humor.
“Be careful what you say guys, because the preacher is close by…”
The implication, although not specifically stated, is that sins of the tongue (like gossip) are acceptable – just as long as the “holy” man isn’t around.
Whenever I’m in a group and one of my brethren jokes this way, I often say something to the effect of, “Hey guys, don’t worry about me – I’m not your eternal Judge!” and they laugh it off.
All kidding aside, hopefully we would agree that it is never acceptable to sin with our tongues – in any fashion (cf. Jas. 3:1ff), whether the preacher is around or not, because God hears everything we say (cf. 1 Pet. 3:12; 2 Kgs. 6:12; Jas. 4:3).
Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, the will give account of it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mat. 12:36-37).
In point of fact, the Lord not only knows what we say, but even what we think (cf. John 2:25; Mat. 19:4; Luke 11:17), and He judges the sincerity of what we utter as well as that which remains within us.
Which leads me to a question.
What are we SAYING AND THINKING during the time we are engaged in the corporate act of singing?
If we sing, “Lead Me to Some Soul Today,” but we’re rarely if ever open to God’s providential “leading,” and we’re not prepared for the opportunity to influence and possibly teach a contact the gospel, what are we really telling our Father in heaven (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)? He knows when there’s a contradiction between what we practice and what we’re singing in song.
If we sing, “Soldiers of Christ Arise,” but we advance into a world of iniquity without wearing any spiritual protection (Eph. 6:13-17), surely we have to admit that while the actual act of singing (as opposed to singing and playing) is in truth as well as in harmony with the pattern of Scripture (John 4:24), it is far from truth in terms of what we’re saying to the Almighty. He obviously hears not only the overt sound of our voices, but He is conscious of the spirit that prompts our singing to Him in the first place.
If we sing, “The Church’s One Foundation” (is Jesus Christ our Lord), but we underpin our lives with the relentless pursuit of pleasure, social media gaming, and other worldly ventures, how will our houses stand when the storms come (Mat. 7:26-27), and most importantly – what does God think when He sees the inconsistencies in our lives (cf. Mal. 1:6-8)?
The Psalmist urged, “God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound off a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of the earth; sing praises with understanding” (Psa. 47:5-7; cf. 1 Cor. 14:15).
Beloved, it is possible for us to open our mouths, engage our voices, sing out and say words without really appreciating what we’re communicating to to God during the assembly (cf. Acts 17:22-31; Josh. 24:14; John 4:24; Mark 7:6-7).
The preacher may, or may not, overhear what you’re saying (or singing) in worship, but God catches every word, every thought, and every attitude.
Think about it.
“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike