The tongue- in one moment, it can encourage and with another, wound. The Bible says that nothing can set a forest so aflame than the fire started by the tongue. (James 3) James continues to tell us that if a person can tame the tongue, they can tame the whole body. That’s a pretty bold statement. Have you ever met someone who doesn’t seem to have that little filter between their brain and the tip of their tongue. Most days, they blurt out whatever seems right to them without considering the consequences.
Do you have a small tube of travel size toothpaste? Take a minute and grab it for me. Now, take a plate or paper towel. Take the tube of paste and squeeze it all out onto the plate or towel. It’s kind of fun, right? Now, take the toothpaste and put it back into the tube. What do you mean you can’t? Well you are right, you can’t. We can attempt to do so, to no avail; our words are like the toothpaste. Once they are out they cannot be put back. What you have said will ring in the person’s ears for the rest of their life. The end result of our toothpaste experiment is to wash the plate or throw away the paper towel. Not so simple with our words; the fallout from our words may last a lifetime.
Proverbs 4:23 says that the heart is the well spring of life—what is in the heart is what spills out when we are bumped in life. That tells me that I need to be aware of what I am putting in my heart—the music I listen to, the movies I watch, the books I read. All will have an influence on what spills out of my heart and my mouth when I get bumped. Occasionally, someone will be sarcastic and, although many times what they say is true, it always makes me take pause and ponder what part of what they are saying is truth and what part, although truth, is bitterness seeping out of their heart.
The old adage, ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me’ was declared by an idiot. (yes, I thought that one through before I said it). There are times I wish someone would have smacked me across the face rather than say what they had to me. The bruising on my face will heal, but scars on my heart will always remain. And in the same way that words can cut so deeply, they also can encourage greatly. Next time you give someone a compliment, watch their eyes light up and their countenance change as the encouraging words you’ve said cover them like a healing balm.
Beginning today, what will you do to encourage others with your tongue? To bring healing and life to others with your words, rather than being a person who wounds and tears down with bitter and venomous words.