The Tongue


“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” James 3:5

The Chicago Fire of 1871 burned for three days, and destroyed thousands of buildings, killed an estimated 300 people and caused an estimated $200 million in damages. It all happened when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in a barn and started the fire.

Seemingly little things can lead to big things and not always good things. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Consider what great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can set in motion great things, both good and bad. 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.

Words, delivered at the right (or wrong) moment, can change the course of history.
Consider Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” oration on the eve of the American Revolution. This was the most influential speech in inspiring the war of independence against Britain.

General Eisenhower on the eve of the Normandy invasion turned to his staff and said to his staff “Let’s go,” and Operation Overlord was set in motion committing 156,000 troops.

But, it is not only the great and historical events which are guided by the tongue. It guides things like telling someone you love them or telling your children you are proud of them. As the tongue can change the course of history, it also can change the relationships in a family or fellowship in our churches.

We should use caution with how we use our tongue. Words from the mouth are like messages after we hit the send button. We can’t get them back. One kind or unkind word can change someone’s entire day. We should be careful with our words, because once they are said, they can be only forgiven, not forgotten. We can say something hurtful in ten seconds, but ten years later, the wounds are still there.

The tongue does a lot of physical things for our body, but I believe that the prime gift God gave us with our tongue is to edify the saints and spread the Word to the sinners.

Perhaps the greatest use of the tongue was given to us by Jesus:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
– Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:7

By John Grant
Used by Permission

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