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Taming the Tongue

     I was studying the Bible today because part of my life is spent as a Bible student and Sunday School teacher.  I enjoy reading it because of the many life lessons it holds.  Today's scripture has everything to do with communications.  And since this is a communications blog, I will refer to the verses I read in it just like I would in any book where I find something worth repeating.  In the book of James, chapter three, James is talking about talking--specifically cursing, lying, gossiping, boasting, and a bunch of other things we say that we shouldn't.  These behaviors are born out of one small part of our bodies that we all lose control of along with our brains at varying points in our lives.  But when we lose control, we amass large amounts of grief for ourselves and others.





    
     Beginning at verse three, he describes this failure of ours.  "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.  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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell...but no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."  That's from the New International Version.  But here's how The Message Bible puts it starting with verse five:
     "A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything--or destroy it!  It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.  By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.  This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue--it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can't go on."
     Wow, James.  That's harsh.  But all of us can agree, it is largely true.  We wield words like weapons to destroy others.  We use them as fragile posts to lift ourselves up because sometimes we boast of ourselves to hide our insecurities.  Whatever the reasoning, we often misuse words and don't give enough credit to their power.  If we were more thoughtful of our words, we'd place them with care in the spirits of others--to offer correction, encouragement, counsel, and truth.  Supported with the steel beams of respect, words can empower others and build strong relationships.  Try to use your words today to unite rather than divide, to support rather than destroy, and to love rather than hate. Then note the response.  Greater still, note the feeling you get from the response you get.  It's addicting.


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