A Dangerous Weapon
If you guessed anthrax or a nuclear bomb, you’re wrong. If you guessed a germ (as in germ warfare), you are wrong again. If you guessed fire, you are close, but still wrong.
This weapon is even more dangerous than any of those things listed, because it can be used at unlimited distance, from a few inches to thousands of miles, with equal deadly impact?
I’ll give you one more clue, this weapon is owned by every person, in every country of the world. You may have guessed it by now, it’s the tongue.
The Scriptures speak about this weapon and its power:
James 3:5-11 Likewise 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 his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
A Greek philosopher asked his servant to provide the best dish possible. The servant prepared a dish of tongue, saying: “It is the best of all dishes, because with it we may bless and communicate happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair, cheer the fainthearted, inspire the discouraged, and say a hundred other things to uplift mankind.”
A few days later the philosopher asked his servant to provide the worst dish of which he could think. Once again a dish of tongue appeared on the table. The servant said, “It is the worst, because with it we may curse and break human hearts; destroy reputations; promote discord and strife; and set families, communities and nations at war with each other.”
He was a wise servant. (Knight’s Master Book of New Illustrations)
In Proverbs 21:23 King Solomon said, “Whoever keeps his tongue, keeps his soul from trouble.”
We may be tempted to think that words are harmless; you’ve heard the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Names are merely “words”, right? And what can words do? They have no material substance.
But I have met many people who have been crippled for life by “names”, mere words that have come from a parent or some authority figure in their lives: names such as “stupid, dumb, ignorant, worthless, a whore, ugly, bastard, human garbage” etc.
Sometimes the absence of positive words has been as destructive as negative words. I spoke to a woman recently who said, “My father never said, ‘I love you.’ I’m sure he did love me, but he never spoke it to me. He never assured me of his affection verbally.” Another woman said, “The first time my father said, ‘I love you,’ was recently.” She’s in her late 50s.
A woman who was raised by her grandmother – both mother and father were absent in her up-bringing – shared how hard is it for her to experience God as a loving Father because of the absence of parental words of love and affirmation; it’s hard for her to read Jer. 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” as God’s love words to her.
I don’t recall my father saying he loved me until I was a young adult, though his every act showed that he did. However, as a child, hugs from Dad when he got home from work were the norm. And though my dad would push for more achievement when I brought home my report cards, “You could have had all A’s instead of those 2 B’s”, still he affirmed me by “You did real good, honey.” Affirmative words, as well as acts, were food to my soul.
It’s important to think of the impact of your words, for words are powerful.
Death and Life
Prov. 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
What kind of fruits is this verse talking about? The fruits produced by the words spoken; the fruit of life or the fruit of death.
The New Living Bible paraphrases the verse by saying: “. . . those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
I have seen marriages die because of harsh and bitter words, angry words, demeaning words spoken to or about the spouse. Words used as swords in the struggle for control in the relationship. Words intended to get back at a spouse for some disappointment or indiscretion that left wounds. Words intentionally flung out to inflict pain on the partner because forgiveness was withheld.
Eph. 4:29-32 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Maybe it’s time for some of us to surrender our mouths to the Lord; to ask Him to set a guard on our lips and to give us a jab in the heart when we have misused this wonderful gift of communication.
What is the proper use of the tongue? It should be used as an instrument of healing, not a weapon of destruction; a giver of life and encouragement, instead of pain and death.
May God grant you grace today as you set a guard on your tongue.
©2011, Marcy Alves
- Words are like bullets. They shoot fire. (deborahnk.com)
- Power of the Tongue: Speaking Death and Negative Words (ecobee27.wordpress.com)
Posted on September 9, 2011, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, God Encounters, My Journey, Reflections and tagged affirmation, Book of Proverbs, Christianity, communication, Curse, Forgiveness, God, healing power, Holy Spirit, life & death, marriage, power of words, Relationships, Religion and Spirituality, the tongue, use of the tongue, weapons, words, words of love. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.