"Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way." - James 3:10
I’ve marveled at a chef when she took an extremely sharp knife and put it to work chopping vegetables and preparing meat with effortless chops and swipes. It can be a beautiful thing to watch them work! But have you ever cut yourself with an extremely sharp blade? You can slice into your flesh so incredibly deep - before you even know it, you’re off to the emergency room!
But even as damaging as that is, it pales in comparison to what the tongue can do! I remember a time at another church when I was taking a group picture of the youth group and their parents, when a very good friend of mine walked through the room. With a fun smirk and a playful jab, I commented that she couldn’t be in the picture, because she didn’t have kids.
The only problem with that was, she and her husband had been trying to have a child for years.
What’s worse, I knew about it. I have no idea what motivated me to say those words… But that’s not the point! The point is, my words had cut her so deep I destroyed her. By the time she walked out of the room, she was practically weeping. Though we’ve patched things up since then, I’m sure that moment haunts her, probably more than it does me.
I also have a memory of sitting in a one-on-one discipleship meeting with someone, describing an incident in my life, how God brought me through it, and what He taught me from it… and as I spoke, I watched the light come on inside a friend, and saw their countenance change - to grab the epiphany and have it change their whole life! That is an incredible experience, to see God use my words to minister right where someone needs them to bring new perspective and open up a new avenue to speak to their soul.
I’ve experienced both sides of the double-edged sword that the tongue can be. I’ve also been on the sword-swinging side, having my words not only do something beautiful but also cause pain and destruction.
The Bible is full of wisdom about controlling the tongue: James 3:10 is good, and Proverbs has numerous examples (18:21 and 21:23 are some favorites). But probably one of the best is Luke 6:45 - “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” The most critical component of your communication is your heart. You have to have your heart filled with the goodness of God in order to use that tongue of yours for His glory!
Today, concentrate and confirm that your heart and your mouth are both under God’s control:
- Read large quantities of scripture
- Ask God to reveal your heart through the reading
- Meditate on those scriptures He brings to light throughout the day
- Reflect on how God used your words to bring life to those around you