You may be familiar with the child’s retort to the playground taunt: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”
But words can hurt more and the wounds that words can inflict may take a long time to heal. Words can ruin the most intimate relationships: marriage and family relationships.
The power of the tongue. The tongue is a tiny little member of our body but exercises great control and power.
The Bible compares the tongue to the bits we put in horses' mouths that they may obey us. With these bits we turn the large horse. It compares the human tongue to the rudder in ships. Although ships are very large and are driven by strong winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the captain desires.
The Bible also compares the tongue to fire. Look at its destructive effects: “See how great a forest a little fire kindles! The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.” We tame wild birds and great fish of the sea, “but no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
Words can kill. God’s commandment, “You shall not murder” is very deep and pointed in its application to us, “I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbor --- not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture, and certainly not by actual deeds . . . By forbidding murder God teaches us that He hates the root of murder: envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness. In God’s sight all such are murder.”
Wow! Who of us is not guilty of murder in the sight of God, who sees what’s in our hearts? “Watch your tongue,” we often say.
The power of Jesus. Jesus means “Savior.” He has the power to save us from using our tongue to kill others. But for that we need a new heart because murder begins in the heart. We need to tell Him and give our bad heart to Christ. He truly forgives because He took the punishment we deserve by dying on the cross. He gives us His Holy Spirit who creates a new heart in us to be patient, peace-loving, gentle, merciful and loving.
He gives us the heart’s desire to use our tongue in service to Him. This hope He offers for renewed relationships. Rather than using words to hurt, we use words to build and heal. This is good news!