Liberal Christianity still hold traditional views on faith and doubt. We all know the old childhood saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. Why we still hold our tongues.
We all know the old childhood saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. But, it’s just not true. Words can cut to the bone. Why is it so important for us to learn to control our tongues?
To understand the power of the tongue, we first have to discover the power of breath. To breathe is to live. Our lungs take in air to feed our blood and tissue with oxygen. Without breath we die. In both the Old and New Testaments
, the words that are most often translated from Hebrew and Greek to the English word â€œspiritâ€ rightly are translated as â€œbreathâ€. (Strongâ€™s Hebrew Lexicon #7309 (for Old Testament) and Strongâ€™s Greek Lexicon #4151(for New Testament))
When God made Adam, He breathed His own breath into him to give him life. â€œAnd the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.â€ (Genesis 2:17) Notice that the verse says, â€œthe man became a living soul. â€œ What God breathed into Adam was His Spirit. In Job we read, â€œThe Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.â€ (Job 33:4)
Breath and Spirit have power. It is by breath that God created the world: He spoke it into existence. â€œBy the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.â€ (Psalms 33:6) Because our words are carried on our breath, they too have the power of life and death in them.
God exhibits this power to give life in the Book of Ezekiel, â€œThus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:â€ (Ezekiel 37:5) In the Book of Isaiah, we see the power to take life, â€œBut with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.â€ (Isaiah 11:4)
Now with an understanding of the power of breath, we can look at the power of words. Because our words are carried on breath and formed by breath, they carry power too. â€œHe that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.â€ (Proverbs 17:27)
James tells us a lot about the power and nature of the tongue. He compares it to the governor on a ship, â€œBehold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.â€ (James 3:4) So are our lives driven and turned on the things that we say.
Our words have the power to destroy us and those around us. â€œAnd 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,â€ (James 3:6 NKJV) Our words can start a chain of events that we canâ€™t stop. Just like a forest fire, they spread and can burn and destroy things in their path. Once started, a forest fire is difficult to put out and leaves wreckage and scars behind. So can our words. The fire from our mouths is straight from hell. The intent of many of our words is to destroy and they do just that.
So powerful is the tongue that we are helpless in our own strength to control it. â€œBut the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.â€ (James 3:8) However, with Godâ€™s help we can gain a measure of control. We must learn to control our speech if we are to mature as Christians. The strength of our witness and testimony to unbelievers is terribly affected by what comes out of our mouths.
Whether we know it or not, people pay attention to what we say and use that information to judge the Church as a whole. Many a person has been driven away from Christianity by the sin of someone who professed the faith and lived something much less. James says more about this work of our tongues:
â€œWith it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.â€ (James 3:9-12 NKJV)
When James talks here about speaking curses, heâ€™s not talking about what we call curse or swear words. Heâ€™s talking about actual curses. If breath and words have power in them, the blessings and curses that come out of our mouths also have power. Modern psychology has recognized this, too. For several years now, psychology has taught positive self-talk and encouragement.
Children in particular are helped or hurt by words. Vocalized encouragement and reinforcement does more to aid the success of a child than most anything else. Likewise, discouragement and destructive putdowns can damage a child for years or even a lifetime. We are foolish if we think that our words donâ€™t have power behind them.
To grow and mature as Christians and to achieve success in our lives, we have to learn to control our tongues. We can speak blessings into our lives and the lives of those around us just as easily as we can speak curses. We must always be aware of how the things we say affect us and others around us. We can do more damage to the Body of Christ, which is the Church, with our words than with anything else we do. We are given a new spirit in Christ. We have new breath in us with Him. So the breath we let out of our mouths ought to carry His promises and His love with it.