The Power of the Tongue

“Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.”

Anonymous

The other day I read the children’s book called, “Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch.” It’s about a factory worker named Mr. Hatch, who kept to himself, lived a routine life and had no friends, till he received a package one Valentine’s Day. In it was a heart shaped box full of candy and a little note that said, “Somebody loves YOU.” Those three words changed his life.

Mr. Hatch felt loved and in turn he was able to love others. He became thoughtful, considerate, helpful and generous of his time and abilities, all because of those three words. I’m reminded how my emotional healing began with a hug from an older woman and her two words, “You’re special.” Like Mr. Hatch, I replayed those words over and over again like a broken record, soothing my soul.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” I’m convicted to think the words that leave my mouth can birth new life, to give hope and healing to hearts or they can crush and snuff out a life. I’m challenged by the wisdom in Proverbs 12:18: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” It’s hard to believe something that small can have that great of an effect.

“The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do.” (James 3:5 TLB) Words rashly spoken in the heat of anger not only do damage in the moment, but the memory of those words may hurt for a life time. The third chapter of the book of James challenges us to tame our tongues, to exercise self control and to think before we curse or bless. The Pilgrims were quoted saying, “Before the tongue can speak, it must have lost the power to wound.” Take a few moments to evaluate the purpose or motivation behind the words you’re about to say and take time to forgive those who have offended you. Diffuse any ammo that may do damage and try the words on yourself first.

My Mom taught me to ‘taste my words’ before they left my mouth. If my words tasted sweet and pleasing, then I could say them. But if my words were bitter then they best stay within. As a fourth grade teacher my students would often hear, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, (about another person), then don’t say anything at all.” That’s also a wise guideline for adults to follow.

Taste your words and tame your tongue so that your spoken words have the power to heal, restore and birth life in those who hear them. And remember, “Somebody loves YOU.”

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo F. Buscaglia

Relevant Reflections:

1. How have you experienced the power of life or death as a result of someone’s tongue?

2. What could you say to someone this week that could possibly change their life?

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