The untamed tongue: a weapon of mass destruction
We rarely stop to consider that we were created with two ears to hear with, and one mouth to speak with on purpose. The tongue is a two edged sword. It can cut to the very core of our being, and can destroy everything in its path when it is fired by Satan with the flames of hell. Or, it can be controlled by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
It was designed to be one of the greatest powers on earth to praise God, pray, preach and teach the Word, and witness. The choice of how it is used is determined by every individual.
James 1:19-20 tells us: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. For the wrath of man worketh not righteousness of God.” James also makes it very clear in chapter 3:8 “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
These two scriptures may seem to be contradictory by putting the decision on the shoulder of an individual to control what he hears, speaks and responds. Then James says that no man can actually do it. However, the only solution is for man to make a choice to allow the Holy Spirit to help him control what he allows to come into his ears, speak through his mouth and how he responds to the words of others.
Most of us do not realize how our words affect the lives of other people even when they are unintentional. However, some people do know how their words hurt or demoralize others because they use them intentionally as a weapon to destroy.
Psalms 140:3 says “They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders poison is under their lips.”
Sometimes the untamed tongue is like a poisonous snake that is loaded with venom of hate, half truths and gossip. It has the power to destroy lives. Matthew 12:34 Jesus says: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” When the heart is filled with hatred, bitterness, anger and strife, Satan will fire up the tongue to spew it all over other people.
Part of the tame-less tongue involves gossip. Of course we never consider ourselves as gossipers. Maybe a better term is “trash talking” or toxic words. Most of the time, it starts out as careless repeating of something we have heard others say. Gossip is saying something that may be true but not spoken with the intent of being helpful.
What kind of people gossip? Everybody gossips at one time or another. We are all guilty. Who gets hurt by gossip? Everyone, including the gossiper, suffers the consequences. We have a sinful nature and it wants to express things which end up inflicting pain on other people.
Slander is another weapon and it goes beyond gossip. The Greek word for slander is “diabolos” which is the same word that is translated devil or Satan. This definition should warn us not to do it.
How do we slander others? Name calling focuses on the character of the person rather than on the situation that causes us to call them names. We use heart wrenching words such as “I am disappointed in you” which indicates failure or even rejection.
Overstating a point in our conversation is a by-product of getting so upset that our words become ugly and exaggerated. It is like rubbing salt into a wound when we slander others by bringing up past mistakes, old fights, differences, failures or sins, and saying words that deliberately humiliate and destroy someone.
James 1:26 “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
Only God can control our lethal tongue through the power of the Holy Spirit. But we have to make a conscious choice to allow Him to do it through us. Controlling the tongue is a spiritual issue and not just a natural one.
Bonnie Lyda is a Bible Studies Teacher at Mena First Assembly of God. Send her an email to email@example.com. Special thanks to the Mena Star for sending Lyda's columns to First Arkansas News.