Read also Taming Your Tongue – Part 1
I was talking yesterday about the problem of our tongue—how we can hurt others by what we say. Many people’s lives have been ruined by a scathing lie that has been shared, or gossip. We talk with people every day. Have you ever said something that you wished you had never said? Sometimes we say it deliberately other times it just comes out. But words once spoken are spoken, whether good or bad—they are spoken and they are out there. We can’t bring them back. We bless and we curse with our words.
Let’s talk about the power of our words. Words can hurt or heal—they can tear down or build up. Words are powerful.
A young lady named Sally and her mother had a violent shouting match about the dent Sally put in her mother’s car. After the confrontation, the father tried to console her. “What did your mother say about the dent in the car?”, he asked. “Dad, do you want me to leave out the swear words?” “Please,” he replied. Sally said, “Then she didn’t say anything.” That mother failed to realise that words also can leave ‘dents’ in people—but more than that they can damage and destroy a relationship. Dents can be hammered out of a car—they are much more difficult to remove from human beings.
We can use the tongue to blast someone: To verbally abuse a spouse. To verbally spank a child. To ridicule a classmate, colleague or co-worker. Or to put down another race of people. Have you been guilty of that?
In the Bible we read in James 3:2, “If anyone can control his tongue, it proves that he has perfect control over himself in every other way.” (Living Bible). Taming the tongue is as big a problem today as it was in the early church. To explain how powerful the tongue is James compares it to the rudder of a ship or a bit in a horse’s mouth. Something so small has a lot of power and lot of control.
Consider for a moment the wonder of our power of speech. Tests have shown that when we hear a word, the physical movement that enters our ear and then inner ear activates 24,000 little nerves which react through the limbic system and results in the sending of hormones into the body. Our whole physical system reacts, when we hear words of care or condemnation. When we hear words that bring us pain or anxiety, the physical-chemical reaction takes 72 hours to subside. No wonder some people live in a perpetual state of agitation and upset! In our closest relationships we live out the old song, “you always hurt the one you love…”—especially with our tongues. We know just the right buttons to push.
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Jesus made it quite clear in his example of a tree and its fruit in Luke 6:43-45. He said: “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces. You can’t pick figs or grapes from thorn bushes. Good people do good things because of the good in their hearts. Bad people do bad things because of the evil in their hearts. Your words show what is in your heart”. What an amazing word here. It gets right to the point, doesn’t it?
The only way we can tame the tongue is through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit who helps us to stop and think before we speak. Jesus points us back to Scripture again and again . . . to the fruits of the Spirit – patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. I think that over time, we must learn to engage the brain before starting the mouth.
First, we can also use the tongue to bless others:
To tell a spouse–I love you.
To tell a child–I am proud of you.
To ask a colleague–Can I help you?
To hold a fellow Christian’s hand–Can we pray together?
To knock on a neighbour’s door and say — Welcome to the neighbourhood.
Second, we can use our tongues to praise God.
The decade of the 1660s in England was filled with disaster. The plague in 1665 made its way through the City of London leaving 70,000 dead. A year later a fire destroyed much of that city. The prophets of doom and gloom predicted that London and England would never recover. During all of this a godly Christian man–Bishop Thomas Kent–kept encouraging the people that he could still see the Light of God’s purpose and presence even in tough times. He felt inspired one night to write a song to testify to his convictions, that God was still in control and worthy of praise. The Church still sings that song today: He wrote these words ..
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise him above ye Heavenly Host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Third, we can use our words to tell others about Jesus our Saviour. What an opportunity we have to tell others what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. God has called us to witness to others, to tell others how God has saved us from sin and called us to be His own children. We can tell others that God is our source of hope and foundation for life. He has given us tongues and lips and voices to use to His glory and for His purposes.
Let me ask you three questions ,,
I have never hurt another person with my words – true or false
I have never repeated something about another person that I did not know for certain was
absolutely true. – True or false
I never participate in idle talk about other people and their lives. – True or false.
James says that the tongue is like a spark that sets off a whole fire. We are all capable of saying things that can start world war three. It is like throwing a spark into a puddle of petrol and the whole thing flames up instantly. The tongue is like a spark that instantaneously ignites a huge fire around and about us.
But we need to speak don’t we – that is how we communicate (mostly). We also communicate with a look, or a touch, a smile, a frown, or by the volume or inflection in our voice. We also communicate with a wave of the hand, a beckon or an upturned thumb or an upturned finger!
Communication is a very important part of our lives. But with our tongue we either bless or we curse..