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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Controlling the Tongue

It was a particularly tough football game, and nerves were on edge. The home team had been the victim of three or four close calls, and they were now trailing the visitors by a touchdown and a field goal. When the official called yet another close one in the visitors' favor, the home quarterback blew his top.

"How many times can you do this to us in a single game?" he screamed. "You were wrong on the out-of-bounds call, you were wrong on that last holding call, and you failed to say anything about a late hit in the first quarter." The official just stared.   The quarterback seethed, but he tried to suppress language that might get him tossed out of the game.   "What it comes down to," he bellowed, "is that YOU STINK!" The official stared a few more seconds.   Then he bent down, picked up the ball, paced off 15 yards, and put the ball down. He turned to face the steaming quarterback.   "And how do I smell from here?" he asked.

There are so many times when it is hard to "bite the tongue" and say nothing. The urge to say "something" seems so overpowering that the words sometimes erupt before we have a chance to think them through. Unfortunately, those words have consequences.   The minor offenses result in 15-yard penalties.   The more serious offenses result in years of regret and heartache, or perhaps broken relationships that take years to rebuild.   No wonder James had such strong words of praise concerning the person who is always able to control what he says: 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or 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. 5Likewise 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. 6The 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. 7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:2-12)

"He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.   Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive." (Prov.17:27-28)

May your words today be few, calm, and carefully thought out.  Amen?

Have a good a and Godly day.