Meditation Moments 130: "THE UNCONTROLLED TONGUE"
There's a very small thing around my house and your house, and it gives more trouble than all the sickness, financial difficulties and storms of life! It's just a little thing, about three or four inches long and a few inches wide, but it can cause complete havoc and it can wreck a whole day when it gets loose.
I think you've guessed what it is: A tongue that's out of control; an unkind tongue, a bitter tongue, a tongue that says hard and critical things. Someone has said that the day that begins with a bad tongue turned loose finds even the dog taking to the wood shed, and the man of the house quickly finds a job in the back yard!
It doesn't make any difference whether it's a man or woman who loses control of a tongue -- everybody suffers. It only proves God's Word to be more true than ever, as we read in James, Chapter 3, "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
"For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body." -- They're whole body is turned about with bits. "Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
"Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of Mankind:
"But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh." -- Jam.3:1-12.
Note particularly these words, "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing...these things ought not so to be." Someone once sought my help, saying, "Have you any suggestion to make regarding a difficulty of this kind? I can't understand why it is that at the office I can be so kind and patient with everybody, and it seems that I never get out of humor. In fact, at the office I have the name of being a pretty good fellow! But for some unknown reason, at home I lose my temper easily. I get out of patience with the children, especially one who upsets me greatly.
"I get along so well at the office, at my church and other places away from home. I hold a respected position in my church, and in all these places it seems so easy. Why is this? What's to blame at home that gets me so upset?" Well, I had to answer and was compelled to be very frank about the real test of a man -- that it isn't on the street or in the office or in a church, but is at home.
The place to take the true measure of a man is not out on the job, nor nay of these other places, but you can ascertain what kind of man he is, and if he has something real in so far as his religion is concerned, right in the home -- just what he is there.
Someone has wisely said, "At home a man lays aside the mask, and there you may judge whether he is a hero or a humbug." Sophie, the scrub woman, used to say that some men were "church angels and home devils." Well, that's quite true sometimes! I once found a little clipping in Dean Dutton's book. He said:
"I care not what the World says of a man, whether it crowns him with pearls or pelts him with eggs. I care never a copper what his reputation or religion may be. If his babies dread his home-coming, and his wife has to swallow her heart every time she asks him for a five Dollar bill -- there's a sham about him somehow! Even though he be a church member and his hallelujah's shake the eternal hills!
"But if his children are delighted at his home-coming, his wife thrills at the sound of his footsteps, you can take it for granted, it doesn't make any difference what they think of him at the office, that man isn't any humbug, he's no counterfeit! If he lives it at home!"
There is this common failure, this lack of kindness and courtesy in the home, the lack of control in the home. Peter said, "Be courteous" (1Pet.3:8), because he knew, as you do, that there are many Christians who rather pride themselves on their brusqueness of manner. I've heard them say, "Well, I'm very frank and outspoken." -- Yet the truth being that they were very rude and discourteous many times!
Such a characteristic can severely sour a family life. The husband may in his heart dearly love his wife, but if his voice is sharp and his tone is bitter, he'll deeply wound her and hurt all the family relation. And if his wife isn't sweet and gentle, but is sharp-tongued and domineering, she can easily break up the home. She can easily upset any day and send the husband off to work with a sad heart.
Are there frequent quarrels and dissensions in the home? That doesn't just happen. Someone is to blame. Maybe we'd better take a better look at ourselves. Here's a favorite poem of mine:
"If I had known in the morning,
How wearily all the day
The words unkind would trouble my mind,
I said when you went away.
Had I been more careful, Darling,
Nor given you heedless pain,
But we vex our own with look and tone,
We might never take back again.
"For though in the quiet evening,
You might give me the kiss of peace,
Yet it might be, that never for me,
The pain of the heart should cease.
For many go forth in the morning
But never come back at night,
And hearts have been broken,
For harsh words spoken
That sorrow can ne'er get right.
"We have careful thoughts for the stranger
And smiles for the sometimes guest,
But oh, for our own, a bitter tone,
Though we say we love our own the best.
And lips with the curve impatient,
Or brow with that look of scorn,
There's a cruel fate
Were the night too late,
To undo the work of the morn'."
-- Margaret Thaxter
And also this poem by Mary Lather:
"If we knew who's feet were standing
Close beside the narrow stream,
If we knew who's eyes were closing
In the sleep that knows no dream,
We'd be so kind and tender,
Lightly judge, and gently speak.
Let us act as though we know it,
For the links so quickly break."
It's those thoughtless, unkind words that leap from our lips. Is there some way that one can overcome all this bitterness, this unkindness? Is there some way it can be overcome? Well, the trouble isn't fundamentally with the tongue, it's with the heart.
Words are only the conveyance in which the quality of the heart rides forth to other people. Jesus teaches that our words reveal our heart character. Whatever the quality of the heart, it will possess and accompany the words exactly.
Someone has said there is an invisible stream of soul quality that flows through our words, and there's no way under the sun to change that quality except a change of spirit from which the words flow. There must be a change of heart. You can never control that tongue of yours yourself. I have seen people try to do it, but as it says in His Word, "The tongue can no man tame." -- But God can tame it! He's all powerful and nothing is impossible with God. You can have the victory! "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." -- Mk.10:27. Open your heart to Him and yield yourself completely.
Ask Him to come in and fill you with His Spirit. Then He will speak through you and your words will be "seasoned with salt." -- Col.4:6. If you faithfully read God's Word, you'll come into an abiding relationship with Him, that as Jesus said, "My Words abide in you." -- Jn.15:7.
Christ is the only true Source of all love, kindness and sweetness. As He takes possession of your whole life, He takes possession of your tongue, and His Words will abide in you. Then the bitter, sharp, critical spirit is gone, and He'll give you out of His life. His life will flow through you and out of you "shall flow rivers of living water." -- Jn.7:38b.
He spoke of the Spirit which shall dwell in you. Do you believe this? God cannot fail His Word. The promises of God are yea and amen to the glory of God. Trust Him to do it. Believe His Word, it's never failed!
If you have wounded any soul today, take this to heart and pray about it. I can't fully explain how this transformation takes place, but it does, as His Love flows through you and takes possession of your tongue, and your tongue becomes a stream of blessing to all about you.
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family -- This file has not been proofread.