Tongue Trouble

Q: Pound for pound, what’s the most powerful muscle in the human body?

A: The tongue.

I once lost a Trivial Pursuit game because of that question. I even researched it afterward to make sure I hadn’t been cheated out of a win. I found it on Wikipedia (so it must be true).

But I was surprised by something else my Google search revealed. It seems there are zillions of Bible verses warning about the mighty power of that seemingly innocuous pink flap of flesh. Here’s just a sampling:

  • “The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)
  • “But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)
  • “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)
  • “[T]he tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6)

What did Jesus say about the tongue? “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

Yikes. So, what should we do?

Clean Up Our Hearts. Jesus preceded his warning above with these words: “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) We need to let God into our hearts so that He can clean out all the filth and muck we’ve stored up there.

Be Slow to Speak. As my Nana always says: “God gave you two ears and one mouth — use them accordingly.” Or as James says: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

When You Speak, Speak Good. As we discussed yesterday, the Holy Spirit appeared as “tongues of fire” when He first came to earth. God wants us to use our tongues to light up the world for good:

  • “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” (Proverbs 10:11)
  • “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb; sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
  • “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25)
  • “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life . . . a man finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:4, 23)

Our words can change the world. Let God fill your heart so that you can speak words of wisdom, love and encouragement to those around you. The world needs it.



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