Your own mouth comdemns you, and not I: yes, your own lips testify against you.
These words have a singular and quite unintentional application as they proceed from one of Job's comforters. Eliphaz means them for his victim, but they rebound on their author. The three friends afford striking instances of men condemned by their own mouths. As we read their pretentious and unsympathetic sentences, we cannot but also read between the lines the self-condemnation of the speakers. The only safe way to use so dangerous a weapon as that which Eliphaz here employs is to turn it against ourselves. Let us each inquire how we may be condemned by our own mouths.
I. BY CONFESSION.
1. The duty. This is the most obvious and direct method of self-condemnation, and it is the most honourable. It is shameful to sin, but it is more shameful to deny our guilt and try to hush up our evil-doing. There is something manly in daring to own one's own wrong deeds. It would be better if we could do it more among men, confessing our faults one to another (James 5:16). It is absolutely necessary that we should do it to God. Confession is the first condition of forgiveness.
2. The difficulty. Now, this confession is by no means so easy as it appears before we have attempted it for ourselves. Not only is there pride to be overcome and the fear of obloquy to be mastered, but the subtle self-deceit of the heart must be conquered. For we are always tempted to plead excuses and extenuating circumstances. Yet no confession is worth anything that keeps hack part of the guilt. Confession must be frank, unreserved, whole-hearted, or it will run into hypocrisy. It is better not to confess our sins at all than to try to make them appear in a good light. The true attitude of penitence is one of utter self-abandonment, one of profound self-abasement.
II. BY ACCUSING OTHERS. Thus Eliphaz thought Job condemned himself by trying to bring a charge against God, and at the same time Eliphaz succeeded m condemning himself by accusing Job. The beam is never so visible in our own eye as when we are attempting to remove the mote from our brother's eye. A censorious spirit brings a person into odious notoriety and invites criticism. He should be well able to stand a searching cross-examination who enters the witness-box against his neighbour. But further, the very spirit of censoriousness is evil, and the exhibition of such a spirit is self-condemnatory. While we condemn our brother for unorthodoxy, our very spirit and action condemn us for want of charity - a much greater fault.
III. BY ALL OUR SPEAKING. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." We cannot be long with a person without some of his true character revealing itself. Men are not such inscrutable enigmas as they flatter themselves with being. The general conversation must reflect the normal tone of the life. Particular deeds of wickedness may be hidden in impenetrable silence, but the evil heart from which they spring cannot be thus hidden. Therefore we are to be judged by every idle word (Matthew 12:36) - not because careless speech is a great sin, but because our unreflecting language reveals our true selves. It is the straw that shows the set of the current. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.