Lifelines October 17, 2021

The tongue is a restless rascal.  Words seem to jump out of our mouth without ever crossing through our mind.  Once out, they are irretrievable.  As much as we may regret them, they are out there forever.  They build up and tear down.  They encourage and discourage.  They carry a punch that lingers for a very long time.  Words.  Potent weapons however they are used.

They originate deep down in our most inner self.  We call it the heart (Matthew 15:18), and the thoughts that spill out of our lips start way down there.  We communicate our genuine selves in consonants and vowels that form words which express ideas.  We seldom give them a lot of thought, and that is a mistake.  They are capable of healing hurts or causing them.  They slash and burn or comfort and console.  They are unforgettable.

God told us long ago of their power and how poorly we handle them (James 3:1-12).  It’s as if our tongue has a mind of its own.  Like a windblown ship that goes wherever its pilot guides it with a small rudder or a horse controlled by a tiny bit.  The tongue is relatively insignificant but seems to control us more than we control it.  Sound familiar?  Have you ever felt sorry for your choice of words?  They sting the hearer and haunt the speaker.  Neither forgets.  A single match can set a great forest ablaze. 

We have been able to tame all sorts of critters, but the tongue still seems beyond our control.  We praise our God and curse those who are created in His image.  James fills a paragraph with an assortment of images (Using words, by the way!) to open our eyes to the need to watch our mouths.  Blessings and curses come from the same vocal cords. That is not the way it should be.

Christians should be different.  No, Christians MUST be different. Every word is significant.  There is no place for indecent or obscene language.  In the middle of his discussion about our speech, Paul mentions the possibility of grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:32).  Imagine how we would guard our language if we could see the Spirit of God flinch with disappointment and sadness every time we spoke inappropriately.  Every sentence is a fresh opportunity to encourage and edify, to glorify and honor our Savior.  Let’s not waste them.

We are children of God and that brings both blessings and responsibilities.  We represent Him wherever we go and whatever we say.  Speech is not just words but also the manner in which they are spoken.  “…But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ…(Ephesians 4:15).”  It is our Lord’s design and desire that our speech be uniquely Christian.  His ears are everywhere.  It matters.  Let’s not let Him down.