There is power in the tongue. Often, when you see the doctor, the first thing he checks is your tongue. He can tell a great deal about your health by looking at your tongue. (Matthew 12:34) How we speak reveals a lot about us. What does your tongue tell about you? The words which come forth are able to bless or to destroy. Words are the expression of the thoughts of the heart. James wrote of the danger of the untamed tongue. Hear the word of the Lord, "My breth­ren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judg­ment. For we all stumble in many things. If any­one does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kin­dles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniq­uity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the simili­tude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear ol­ives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh." (James 3:1-12) A kind word can give courage to a despon­dent heart. On the other hand, many eyes have been filled with tears because people have had their hearts ripped by cruel words. Spiritual strength is re­quired to properly use the tongue. Following are some seldom heard words which could make an eternal difference in our life.


     "I WAS WRONG." It is very difficult for people to admit that "I was wrong." These are certainly seldom heard words. Even when we are wrong and know it we want to blame someone else. In Genesis 16 we read the story of Sarah, who was barren, giving Hagar to Abra­ham to bear a child. She soon realized she was wrong but listen to her words, "My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge be­tween you and me." (Genesis 16:5) How long has it been since you humbled yourself and admitted, "I was wrong."


     "I DON'T KNOW." Many of us know every­thing! If you don't believe this just ask! Solomon reminded us that, "The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble." (Proverbs 4:19) There are things we know and we should not pretend not to know. However, none of us knows everything. Yet how seldom do we hear an honest, "I don't know."


     "PLEASE FORGIVE ME." These words are needed at home, in the work place and in the church. What a difference these three simple words could make. There are some who, from time to time, feel a need to respond to the invitation in a public way. There are others who see fit to criticize these people. I had much rather be the one saying, "Lord, please forgive me" than the one who needs forgiveness but is too blind to see his own sin. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:9-10)


     "I CAN DO MORE." Society is filled with the attitude of trying to get by with as little as possible. This is true of many in the work place and it is also true of many in the church. Seldom do we hear Christians saying, "I can do more." Paul challenged the Corinthian Chris­tians to always abound in God's work. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58)


     "I CAN DO BETTER." There are things that are better. Wisdom is better than gold. "How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver." (Proverbs 16:16) Can you do better in control­ling your tongue? Can you do better in your service to others? Can you do better in control­ling your anger? "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." (Proverbs 16:32) Though seldom heard, yet if spoken with honesty all of us should probably say, "I can do better."


     "I SPOKE WITHOUT THINKING." Many thoughtless words are spoken daily. May God help us to be careful about the words we say. Give thought both to what you say and how you say it. "I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me. I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; and my sorrow was stirred up. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue: Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am." (Psalm 39:1-4) Thoughtless words are destructive words.


     "I'M PROUD OF YOU." Solomon said, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so." (Proverbs 3:27) Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to find fault than it is to praise good. Many children have never heard or seldom hear parents say, "I'm proud of you." Sim­ple words of appreciation could change our world. Remember, "Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad." (Proverbs 12:25)


     Key verses about the tongue:


     "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit." (Proverbs 15:4)


     "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21)


     "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles." (Proverbs 21:23)


     "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless." (James 1:26)


     The person who learns proper use of the tongue has learned a great truth. "A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" (Proverbs 15:23) Are you a Christian? (Mark 16:15-16) Do you use your tongue as you know you should? (James 3:1-12) Use your tongue for God because, "By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:37)                      


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037