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Its What You Say AND How You Say It

May 29, 2014

“Its not what you said, its how you said it!” 

Language

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that roll off my mother’s tongue growing up, it is very likely I would be lounging in a small Spanish villa overlooking the coast right now rather than writing this blog post. I ALWAYS got in trouble for my words… Not necessarily what I said, but how I said it. See, I have a penchant for sarcasm and the quick wit to snap it around. There are times when my tongue can crack about like Indiana Jones’ whip during a daring escape from the bad guys in a jungle temple. While this is great for cracking jokes and being the life of the party, it can also be detrimental to my walk and others around me if I’m not careful. Sometimes my tongue can get the better of me before I know it… and that is dangerous.

Proverbs 12:18 says, The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

David knew the tongue to be a weapon of mass destruction as well. In Psalm 64:3-4, he says, They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.”

The book of James also spends over half of chapter 3 on the tongue, which should make us sit up and take notice. Take a look at what it says:

James 3: 3-12 – 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 body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

In light of everything God’s Word brings to light, the admonishment my mother gave me, while well-intentioned, was not quite correct. The problem isn’t just how I say something, it matters what I say as well!

Some of you are probably thinking “yeah yeah, I know this already… why the refresher course?” First, it is always good to be reminded of the need to keep our tongues in check. Secondly, I had to learn this the hard way yet again this week.

I am part of a Praise and Worship forum group that talks about gear. Guitars, basses, keyboards, drums, mics, mixers, pedals, etc… We talk about it all, share ideas, give suggestions on upgrades, share feedback from demo-ing gear, and so on. However, there are times (and it seems to be more often than not as of late) that the “feedback” people get is quite sarcastic and downright mean. I realize social media has given many a person the platform to say what they want to say without fear of face to face repercussions, but we as Christians are called to a higher standard. “Trolling”, as it is called online, is not an attribute for a Christian to aspire to, nor is it a skill we want to incorporate. By it’s very nature, the process is no different than being the school bully, putting someone else down for your own merriment.

I am also a leader in my church and in my home. Prior to speaking about the tongue in chapter 3, James states clearly that not everyone should aspire to be a pastor or teacher, for they will be held accountable to a different (meaning higher) standard. Yesterday, I posted a Ragamuffin Gospel blog on my Facebook wall. The premise of the article was good, as it spoke to the dangers of placing anything (including your favorite church, artist, or song) ahead of God, as it can become an idol. However, a couple of good friends gently pointed out some surly language in the article which put down other human beings for the sake of getting the point across. I had glossed over the language. I had become desensitized to it, and after being reminded of it, I had to repent. While the context of the article was good, the presentation of the content played right into what James spoke of.

So, how sharp is your tongue? How willing are you to use it? Do you think about what you say as well as how you say it? May this be a good reminder to all of us.

Father, I ask humbly that you help each of us be slow to speak and quick to show love. Help us to realize our words can hurt, maim, and destroy if we are not careful. Give us the fortitude to HOLD our tongues, CHECK our hearts, and ADJUST our responses to what You would have us say and how you would have us say it. 

Amen.

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