Taming the Tongue | Lessons from James

Welcome to Real Life.   The tongue is tiny, yet crazy powerful.
It only takes a spark, remember,
to set off a forest fire.
A careless or wrongly placed word
out of your mouth can do that.
By our speech we can ruin the world,
turn harmony to chaos,
throw mud on a reputation,
send the whole world up in smoke
and go up in smoke with it,
smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary:
You can tame a tiger,
but you can't tame a tongue.[1]
Guilty.  I’ve said things and immediately wished them unsaid.  I’ve laid awake nights agonizing over stupid, ugly words.  I once heard that the sound waves of spoken words remain in the universe forever.   True or not, they seem to haunt my memory forever.  Dumb remarks uttered years ago can still turn my stomach.

My words hold the power of life and death,[2]  I don’t like that responsibility.   The same as an IED,[3] hit my pressure point and I could explode the shrapnel of deadly words. Like it or not, I hold power in this tongue of mine.  Sure, I can ask for forgiveness.  The offended may grant it.  But, words can’t be unheard.  Shrapnel leaves a scare.  Scary.

How can I control my tongue?  “Can’t be tamed,” says James.  However, I can control the state of my heart.  And it is out of the abundance of my heart that my mouth speaks.[4]  What's my heart full of?  Do the things I read, listen to, and watch promote life or death?  Have I buried hurts, fears, anger, or bitterness that's festering? God’s Spirit specializes in healing and transforming hearts.  Change my heart, O God.  A healthy heart bursts with life.   
My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of Your Blood
“My Eyes are Dry” by the late Keith Green
Take it further…

[1] James 3:5-8 The Message
[2] Proverbs 18:21
[3] Improvised Explosive Device (roadside bomb)

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