James 3:2-10 “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”
Last Sunday, I had the privilege of visiting my dad’s church (The Little Church in the Pines) in Bass Lake, California. Pastor Herk preached how virtually everything we speak can be taken either constructively or destructively. Our words can bring either joy or despair. We can build up people or tear them down with just a few choice words. Whether we realize it or not, the stakes are high when we speak. The stakes can be even higher when we write, email or converse over social media because words can be misheard and the intent of the message misinterpreted due to lack of voice inflection and personal interaction. We can commit character assassination with our tongues.
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Parents, children, friends and neighbors can blast each other with the impact of a bomb. Our words, when hurled as verbal hand-grenades, have consequences, so bridle the tongue, meaning guard the things that you say. What we speak, usually, are followed by our corresponding actions. Proverbs 21:23 says, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” The tongue can express, but can also repress. It can befriend and it can offend. It can affirm or it can alienate. It can build or it can belittle. Our words can either comfort or criticize. What we say can either delight or destroy. Like the bit in a horse’s mouth and the ruder on a ship directs their direction, our tongue speaks from the heart and directs the direction of our life, so must be under control before it turns into an out-of-control wildfire by the powers of Hell. One little comment can spark into something catastrophic and devastating as they can corrupt lives and shipwreck families. One small remark can make a great, exasperating negative impact, unleashing doubt from that little devil.
Let’s continue Pastor Herk’s message on the power of words in the next post.
In Christ, Brian