Today's Daily Thought: To the addict of the unkind word
James 3:2, 9-10, "We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check...With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be."
The most powerful muscle in your body is not your arm or even your leg. You may be able to lift a heavy weight or run far and yet may not be truly strong. True power, true strength, is found in your mouth. It's by the control of your tongue a person is shown to have power and strength.
He or she who can control the muscle of the tongue can control all of themselves. By the control of their tongue they can control their behavior and the very direction of their lives. (James 3:3-4)
On the other hand, by the power of the tongue great evil is accomplished. Like a fire that burns and destroys, the tongue can bring horrible destruction (James 3:5-6). Lives can be ruined by the things we say. Very often our own life is engulfed in the blaze of our words.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Words That Hurt, Words That Heal, has lectured throughout this country on the powerful, often negative impact of words. He often asks audiences if they can go 24 hours without saying any unkind words about, or to, another person. Invariably, a small number of listeners raise their hands, signifying "Yes." Others laugh, and quite a few call out, "No!"
Telushkin responds: "Those who can't answer 'yes' must recognize that you have a serious problem. If you can't go 24 hours without drinking liquor, you're addicted to alcohol. If you can't go 24 hours without smoking, you're addicted to nicotine. So if you can't go 24 hours without saying unkind words about others, then you've lost control over your tongue." [Mark Mitchell, "The Life-Giving Tongue," Qoheleth blog (11-15-13)]
Have you lost control over your tongue? We are often so flippant in the things we say. We become addicts of negative words and malicious banter. We give our words so little thought. What would happen if we spent as much time training our tongues as we did training our bodies? What would happen if we changed our negative words into affirming positive ones? How could it change our lives and the lives of those around us?
Here are words to live by: "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..." (James 1:19).
You want to change your life? Start with what you say and the rest will follow.
Prayer: Our Father God, forgive us for our weak tongues, unguarded words, inappropriate speech, unkind gossip and malicious banter. Bring to us words that praise, that affirm, that build up and bring You glory. Be the Lord of our tongues. In Jesus name, amen.