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 did a little Google research 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 search revealed. Up popped a slew of Bible-y warnings about the 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 human being 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)
  • The 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 one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6)

Here’s what Jesus said about the tongue:

I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty 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: “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (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. The Holy Spirit appeared as “tongues of fire” when He came to earth. He 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)
  • Gracious words are a honeycomb; sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)
  • Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. (Proverbs 12:25)
  • The soothing tongue is a tree of life … a person 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  so that you can speak words of wisdom, love and encouragement to those around you. The world needs it.


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