Watching from across the valley, I thought of the warning in James chapter 3 about our words.
“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness … staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell … no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
Wow, that seems harsh. Are we really that out of control with our words?
I’ll answer that question with another.
When you feel like saying something you shouldn’t, is it easier to restrain yourself, or to let your tongue run loose?
That little tidbit of information about so-and-so you pass on; the white lie that seems like it doesn’t really matter; a little grumbling just to let off steam…
Are these really so bad?
The first chapter in Genesis recounts how God created everything by speaking it into existence, then goes on to tell us that man (both male and female) was made in God’s image. Later, Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
God created the world by means of the spoken word. Then he made us to uniquely reflect himself. By extension, our words, too, wield tremendous power.
Words are weapons which can either build others up, or tear them down.
Ever had your reputation questioned? Ever been put down, or shamed, or lied to? The old adage, sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me couldn’t be less true.
Our words matter. They matter so much they can make or break others’ lives.
Years ago, a pastor I knew learned a hard lesson. He was told that a young boy in his congregation saw a vision of him with flames coming out of his mouth, scorching the church sanctuary.
When he heard this, the pastor realized he had been harsh toward people under his spiritual care, damaging their souls. Sobered, he changed his attitude.
We can do great damage – but the good news is, we can do great good as well.
The tongue that is capable of hurting others is also capable of praise, comfort, and encouragement.
I’m kind of a neat freak, whereas my husband tends to leave a happy trail behind him. Early in our marriage, Scott told me, “You have a way of coming into a room and making it all better.” It’s been decades, yet from that single remark, I have always been confident about my gift for making places pleasant.
We can burn down, or we can build up. That’s the power of the tongue.
How have you been using yours lately?