ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Death or Life: The Power of the Tongue

Updated on October 22, 2018
GodTalk profile image

I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.

Our Words Hurt or Heal

Nitroglycerin is an oily colorless liquid explosive that has been used for many things. It has been utilized by the military. And it also has been put into service for peaceful purposes such as quarrying. However, nitroglycerin has one major disadvantage. Though it looks harmless enough, it is, nevertheless, extremely unstable. The slightest jolt, impact or friction can cause it to spontaneously detonate. And many people have lost their lives trying to use it.

We all have a nitroglycerin-like tool that is part of the God-given equipment in our bodies. Under control, it is quite useful for communication, as well as helping to manipulate food for chewing and swallowing. However, used in the wrong way, it can be a weapon of mass destruction. If allowed to get out of control, it can harm all that are in the path of the venomous words that it unleashes. I'm talking about the tongue. And in the book of Proverbs, we have a stern warning about what can take place when we don't use this instrument from God correctly. It tells us:

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

Just like we can destroy people with our words, we can also encourage them and give them the motivation to go on in life. Words have been known to save a person from the brink of suicide. And our words can help people grow and achieve, and become all that they were meant to be. We must not be careless with them.

I. The Tongue is Small but Powerful

The book of James talks about the tongue. He gives several life illustrations to show us how we need to use this instrument with caution. For instance, the horse, though a large animal, can be manipulated by the use of a small bit in his mouth. And a giant ship is turned by a very small rudder (James 3:1-3). Even so, the tongue, though a very small part of the body, has the power to do great things.

When you think about it, the tongue is only about four inches long physically, on the average. But with it an Adolf Hitler manipulated thousands to bend to his will and to follow the Nazi party. Because of his words, 6 million Jews went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps. And with that same instrument, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a Dream" speech and rallied a whole generation for civil rights.

And, each of us has the power to be equally as hurtful, or equally as helpful. It is up to us. God has given us a gift. That gift, like all of the Lord's gifts, can be used or misused.

II. The Tongue Can Be Destructive

James also sees the tongue as extremely destructive. We all know that a fire under control can be used to warm us, give light and cook our food. But out of control, it can destroy all in its path.

It is estimated that nine out of 10 forest fires are caused by human carelessness each year. The most common cause is the use of open flames and barbecue grills. And improperly extinguished cigarettes also cause many fires.

However, there are times when it is determined that a forest fire has been started on purpose by some arsonists. One of the largest in recent history happened in 2008 in Froland, in Aust-Agder County, Norway. The forest fire lasted for 13 days. And it took large crews from the fire service, civil defense, and armed forces to help put it out. There were also 15 helicopters in the air pouring water over the flames during that time. A total of 77 residents had to be evacuated from their homes. And by the time the fire was contained, 27,000 acres had been affected, including 19,000 acres of productive forests.

James talks about how a little fire can kindle a large forest fire (3:5-6). The tongue, like fire, can be very useful and helpful, or it can destroy people's lives, just as a forest fire can do.

III. The Tongue is Untameable

But beyond its destructive nature, the tongue is quite untameable as well. It's amazing how man has tamed various animals. l have seen trained lions and elephants for instance. Lion trainers sometimes stick their heads between the teeth of the lions that they work with. And people have tamed and trained elephants for thousands of years. The logging industry, in some Asian countries, has used them to pull heavy loads. And at circuses, trained elephants stand on their heads, lie down, roll over, dance and perform various other tricks.

That doesn't seem to be true of the tongue, however. According to James, "it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" We use it to bless our God and curse our fellow human beings, created in God's image. (3:7-9). The untameable tongue can be quite hypocritical.

IV. The Tongue is Hypocritical

I used to live near someone who had a spring. You could always count on it, when you went there, to get fresh spring water. It never went dry. The owners used it to provide water for their home. But that wouldn't happen if someone were to put salt into the water. It would begin to produce salt water, at least until the salt had washed away. You couldn't get the fresh clean water from it and salt water at the same time. Likewise, if an apple tree is grown, it will not produce lemons. It will only produce apples.

However, out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing (3:10-12). This should never happen, but it does more than any of us would care to admit.

Conclusion

Ultimately, God's people should be a source of grace, truth, and love to everyone with whom we come in contact. This, however, will never fully happen unless we can get our tongues under control. With the help of the Holy Spirit living in us, it is possible for the words of our mouths to become a force for good in this world. But we can never underestimate what could happen if we don't manage our tongues. Life and death are truly in the power of the tongue. It is up to us to see that this instrument produces life.

© 2012 Jeff Shirley

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      6 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thanks again for stopping by lifegate.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      6 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      GodTalk,

      I never thought about the tongue and nitroglycerin, but it's true. Thanks for another on spot hub!

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      6 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      You are welcome. God bless you!

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 

      6 years ago from United States

      More than physical injury, words often hurt so much more to us and would stick to our minds.

      And kind, encouraging words will uplift our sagging, dejected spirits; we will fondly remember them as long as we live.

      That's the amazing power of words, the amazing function of the tongue.... thank you for posting such a wonderful hub. :)

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      6 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Yes, it is said that the pen is mightier than the sword. It is indeed much like the tongue in that way. We need to be careful what we say in any form. Thanks for your comments.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      6 years ago from now on

      The tongue .. hmmmmmmm not much different than the pen is it. It is easy to write (or type) things we'd never say in person (guilty as charged). Time for a change. Thank you.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)