At birth you were given a gift, a potential weapon. No safety classes were necessary at the time. No license was needed from the federal government. No state requirements. By virtue of being human you were granted freedom of choice and the power of life and death.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) . The tongue represents our ability to speak or communicate. The fruit is the effects produced by your words, good or bad. I bet you never considered that you were that important. You are. Your words are power and can cause great good (life) or great pain/destruction (death).
Right now most of you already understand the powerful effects of words. Encouraging and soothing words of your parents or the comforting words of a caring member of your church-family. Perhaps you experienced first hand the genuine pain caused by the hurtful words of a friend or loved one. Possibly you have uttered similar words and remembered how awful you felt when those words could not be taken back.
Remember the story of Job? He faced similar struggles with friends who caused great pain. He had lost everything, house, children and health. Yet, while trying to reason and understand his suffering, his friends just rained down on him one accusation after another, so much so that later on he would say, “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words? (Job 19:2)
I remember several years ago, Duke lacrosse players were accused of raping a North Carolina Central College student during a party. The media storm turned the case into a three-ring circus. The problem? It was a vicious lie and one that still has repercussions this day. Facebook is perhaps the single worse invention of all time as it relates to controlling the tongue or your words. The truth is that these days Satan has filled the arena of conversation with hate, complaining, gossiping, lying, sprinkled with a little dab of contention.
You are ultimately responsible. This may be the age of playing the blame game but God holds you accountable for the words you use and the ripple effect they cause throughout time and eternity. “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)
This should cause us all to sit up and take notice. Notice then the real demonstrative power of your words as described in James 3:4-6. I like how The Message brings this thought home in plain simple language.
“A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! 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—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. ” 3:4-8
A wanton-killer. He’s not next door, or sneaking around the corner, he’s literally in your mouth. He’s called the tongue. Knowing how serious your words are and with the fact that you nor I can tame the tongue, what can we do? We need a supernatural force to help us. That force is called the wisdom of God. That is the only way to truly step up and be a blessing and have an impact on those around us.
We will cover that in Life and Death Part 2.
Elder, inspirational writer