#45 The Power of the Tongue

1 July 1999

" A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."-Prov. 18:20-21 Every word that proceeds forth from the mouth is a seed sown in the world in which we live. Our harvest will be according to that in which we sow. It may be poisonous or wholesome, for the Lord of the harvest will carefully watch over every seed and see to it that we "reap what we sow." Evil words tend to "death" while wholesome words tend to "life". It is from our own mouths that we will discover either the best of blessings or the worst of evils. It is all wrapped up in "The power of the tongue." The tongue is the most powerful instrument in the world. By the tongue a war may be declared; a relationship may be destroyed; a death may be commanded; and the whole course of a persons life may be altered. In our experience, we will find this instrument in at least three places: (1) The tongue in our mouth; (2) The tongue in our ear; (3) The tongue in our heart. When I say the tongue in our "mouth" I am referring to the way that we use that little member of our body. According to James, the tongue is the instrument that controls the actions of the whole body. He compares it to the bridle in a horses mouth and the wheel of the great ocean ship(James 3:3,4). Such a small instrument, yet by a bridle a very strong animal is controlled and a ship laden with cargo can be directed. The whole course of life is charted by the tongue. One the positive note, Paul encouraged the church at Thessalonica to, "Comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." The word comfort means to exhort and encourage while the word edify means to build one another up. How would this be accomplished? By the power of the tongue. Everyone needs to be encouraged from time to time. It is by this spirit that the cause will prosper, homes will abound with joy and friendships will flourish . It does not mean to flatter with untruths, but to look for the good in others and encourage them in a good thing. It is by the tongue that the gospel is preached and Christ is exalted. Much good can come from the tongue. That is why the Lord gave us this little instrument. For Good. But the tongue may also be used to sow evil. I have never seen a fight that did not first begin with the tongue. As James said, it is a fire, a world of iniquity. It should be handled with more caution than a loaded gun or a stick of dynamite. When I was a teenager there was a popular song which contained the words, "I fell out of bed hurting my head on things that I said." How well we sleep; and basically, how we feel about ourselves, is wrapped up in the use of a small member of our body: the tongue. I am convinced that many have been led by the devil to destroy their own lives because they have bent their tongue to destroy another person or spread malicious rumors without form or substance. Handle with caution! When I speak of the tongue in "our ear" I am talking about the effect that the tongues of others have upon US. The devil gets to our hearts through our ear, many times unknowingly. Solomon had lost some precious friends because of the wicked tongue of others so he wrote, "A whisperer separateth chief friends"-Prov 28. It is by wicked gossip that friends are separated. How we think about another person should be supported by fact and not hear-say. Was not Christ Himself maligned by untruths and rumors to destroy His character? Surely, the devil has not changed his ways! Let not our tongue be an instrument in his cause! Gossip is like a grass fire. One spark and it is out of control. I recall just a few years ago, when I was burning some leaves in front of my former home to amuse my children, that one tiny spark flew over into my neighbors yard. Before I could reach the spot to stamp out the tiny ember his whole yard was on fire. Thankfully, I had a kind and understanding neighbor. But such is the use of gossip. One spark and the neighborhood is on fire. Oh, that we would spread good in this way! When we listen we should ask this question, "Is this a God honoring conversation?" Surely, if there were fewer listeners there would be far less gossip. But to some it would not matter. As one person said, "I only gossip to two kinds of people. Those who will listen and those who will not." When I say the tongue in our "Heart" I am referring to the pain that is felt when evil words are cast in our direction. Oh, how sad are the children whose parents speak unkindly to them on a daily basis. It was from the tongues of others that Jesus received many a wound. In his 64th division of the Psalms, David spoke of the tongue in his heart. He referred to it as a coward's weapon and he likened it to a sword and an arrow: "Bitter words", that struck his heart and caused him much pain. I am sure that God did not give us our tongue for these purposes. It is not by wealth, clothes, looks, or denomination that God's people are identified. It is by their tongue, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." Lord, bless us to control our tongue that we may be a blessing to others and help us to more fully understand "The power of the tongue." Come to worship with us at HARMONY PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. 337-1115. By His grace, Neil Phelan Jr., Pastor.