“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” James 3:5-6
Words have become the current focus of my attention. Apart from being in the middle of some much needed dental work, I am learning about the impact my words have on others and what God's Word has to say.
My walk with God is important to me – important enough to align myself with His standards. It’s not easy, and embracing a word awareness has been a humbling exercise. I acknowledge how unrestrained I have been in the past.
Our tongue, for the most part, is unbridled. The words we use have an influence and nothing falls on deaf ears. It matters what we say!
The Word of God instructs us on how we ought to have balance in every area of life. Within God’s principles for balance, He warns of whole body defilement because of our tongue. “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity:”
This verse teaches us that the tongue produces a disturbance and an agitation that can be compared with the inferno often produced by a spark. With all the good which it does, who can estimate the amount of evil the tongue can cause. If we spoke what we should speak, what a change would come over the face of all our relationships and human affairs!
To live in the spirit and operate in the flesh simultaneously - is impossible! Simply put, if I blurt words out, “Because I have a point to make,” I am controlled by my flesh. Before it comes out of our mouths, it is filtered through our brain. Don’t you think it’s a good idea to get our brains in gear before we run off with our mouths?
Independent studies have stated that the average woman speaks 20,000 words in a day. My own independent study has revealed that most of what we hear and repeat is idle gossip and the slandering of others. In this respect, I’m ashamed of our self-fulfilling reputation. God already knew. Why else did He give us a manual for our mouths?
There is so much Scripture that can teach us the right way to treat others; our conversation, control of our temper, and restraint of our tongue.
“He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” Proverbs 20:19
Two sorts of women are dangerous to converse with - talebearers and flatterers. Flatterers are often talebearers.
Talebearers, as the Bible teaches, are unprincipled people, that go about sharing stories. They sow jealousy in the minds of others and reveal secrets they have been entrusted with. Don’t give these ladies a hearing! When they go to tell you their tales and secrets, cut the conversation short or change the topic. To be sure, if they are full of words about others, then you too will be the center piece of their conversation - behind your back.
On August 24, 2000, a 46-year-old woman tossed a burning match onto the ground when she stopped by the road to light a cigarette. Rather than putting out the burning match, she just glanced at it and left the area. Many days later, the fire she had recklessly begun was finally contained. Timber worth more than 40 million dollars was destroyed, and over 80,000 acres were burned.
It’s easy to hear this story and think, “What an uncaring woman to leave a burning match in a dry forest!” Yet how often do we fling our lingo without thinking about the consequences? How many times have you walked away after saying something that deeply wounded someone – ignorant or deliberately impolite, not wanting to look at the enormous damage that you have caused?
Too often I talk without thinking, never considering the one receiving my words. It’s easy to blurt out words when we’re ruffled or the pressure is on. Although our focus is on getting the point across, or justifying our actions, or whatever excuse we use for having to state anything for that matter – our words can inflict great damage. Much like a burned forest, the damage can take years to restore.
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4
Does your language grieve or appease others? A good tongue is healing. A bad tongue is wounding.
When I was a little girl and other girls would make fun of me, I would say, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” This poem is profoundly inaccurate. Hard words indeed break no bones, but many a heart has been broken by them. It’s because my heart has been pierced many times by the words of another, that I’m very careful about my verbatim.
Do I ever hurt with my words? Unfortunately, yes! But I’m in God’s classroom for word wisdom, seeking Him with my heart and specifically when it comes to my mouth. He has the tools that we need to sharpen our tongues for good, and to bring Him glory and not shame with our untamed tongue.
Can you remember a time when someone said particularly encouraging words to you and how God used those words to bless you? “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
How can you encourage someone with your words today? If you are feeling discouraged, then build someone’s life today with words of encouragement. Write them a card, or leave a message. We reap what we sow!
I love you and I believe in you!