The Tongue, Poison or Medicine by Virgil Stripes
James 3:5-12 (ESV)
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Jesus also warned the chief priests of His day that the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. So how can I serve God wholeheartedly and still speak evil? Our words do amazing things. We can cause people to rise up to greatness, or we can literally destroy them. I remember that when I was a child, my parents always told me that I should not let people put me down. They taught me a little ditty, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” If children today had enough positive reinforcement, perhaps this could still work for them. But we have taught our children that if someone says evil things to us, they should be made to stop, instead of us just ignoring the evil. I think we need to build people up with words of encouragement, but also let them know that when discouraging things are said, they should just let those things go. Rather than trying to silence and control people, we should ensure that we build up the young and weak in our lives.
I will choose today to let my words be beneficial to others. Let us all, as it says in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”