The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
Whoa! Those who know me well know that I am someone who LOVES to talk! It’s no wonder that my daughter said her first word at 9 months old and hasn’t stopped talking since; she’s got my genes. But with lots of talk also comes lots of foolishness. Sometimes foolishness leads to gossip, and gossip leads to slander, and then before we know it or words have caused someone else to die inside.
Has it happened to you? Has someone said something to you that was so hurtful that it felt as if an arrow had been shot into your heart? Our Lord knows how powerful words are. In fact, he spoke the world into existence through words. The words that come out of our mouths do much more than fill the air.
In our sermon series at church, we wrapped up a study of friendships with this verse about the tongue. The Bible has much to say about watching what we speak:
2 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks what is just.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his feet do not slip.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
and aim their words like deadly arrows.
26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5
I don’t know about you, but I definitely “desire to see many good days.” I don’t want my tongue to be used as arrows that bring pain to others. I don’t want to deceive myself. The law of God IS in my heart. Am I speaking it?
My father always used to tell us: Think Before You Act. My personal discipline this week will be to Think Before You Speak. Are these words going to encourage someone? Or will they bring hurt? Will they bring praise and glory to God? Are they wise?
I once heard a magnificent description of the power of words. Imagine that the french toast you’re cooking catches fire right in front of you. Now, you could throw water on it and put the fire out, or you could throw gasoline on it and blow up your kitchen. Our words can be like water, or they can be like gasoline. Sometimes a friend might need a little gas to help them get excited….perhaps they are feeling nervous about an upcoming job interview. In this case, gasoline is good! You can use your words to encourage them, to ignite an excitement and a passion about the job interview. Or, you could use your words to dampen their enthusiasm further by saying something like: “it doesn’t matter what you wear. Your teeth are so ugly no one will even look at your suit.” (I know none of you would ever dream of saying such a thing!) In that case, the words are being used like water in a bad way.
It just goes to show that it’s important to speak intelligently and even slowly. Measure what we say before we say it. Think: does this situation call for some flame throwing or some water? And then use wise words that follow the godly path.
There’s a reason we have two ears but only one mouth!