I was driving along the highway the other day when a billboard grabbed my attention. It read, “A tongue is light but many can’t hold it.” While I laughed at the play on words, I also began to think of the truth of that statement.
Once words are out there, they can’t be taken back again. Oh, apologies can be made and forgiveness given, but the words are still there. Sometimes, hurtful words can last a lifetime. In the New Testament, James has a lot to say about our tongues. In 3:3-10 he makes the following points: A small bit in the bridle can control a horse, a small rudder can guide a ship, a small spark can start a fire — and a small tongue, like a fire out of control, can cause great destruction. James goes on to tell us that with our tongues we speak out praises to God and, with the same tongue we speak out hurt to our neighbors. He says that if we claim to be religious but can’t control our tongue, something is amiss!
Divorces are often had because of tongue damage, friendships break-up because of tongue damage, hearts are broken because of tongue damage, minds are dulled because of tongue damage, self-esteem is shot down because of tongue damage. Such a little thing can bring such great harm.
James also instructs us in 1:19, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” My mother used to say when I was a child, “If you can’t think of something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Wise words for children; wise words for adults, too.
A valuable prayer for ourselves can be, “Father, I give you my tongue; please give me your wisdom in its use.”