I turned off the news yesterday.
Not gonna watch it for awhile. It’s too distressing. It’s not the tragic stories themselves. It’s that every news media outlet spins the latest occurrences to reflect its own biases. Drives me crazy.
On a personal level, I do the same thing. I wish I could turn off my own tongue, too. My mind is filled with judgments, prejudices, criticisms, harsh words, or snarky comebacks. And my tongue practically pants to articulate those negative thoughts to anyone who will listen.
It’s not that I don’t also have some lovely thoughts, too. Those slip off my tongue like rain from our backyard big-leaf maple, nurturing the shrubs and flowers below.
May I alway rain this way!
Last week, Bruce and I stayed in the Seattle Marriott by the water. The scenes outside our windows thrilled me. To the west I viewed long ferries carrying cars and people to and from Bainbridge Island. To the south, towering office buildings, piers, restaurants, the Ferris Wheel, and beyond, magnificent Mount Rainier. Below, bustling car and pedestrian traffic moved along Alaskan Way.
Out in the sound, a gigantic cargo ship was being escorted south into the Harbor by a tug boat. Bruce and I watched for nearly a half hour, entranced by how such a tiny ship could pull the black behemoth, loaded with box cars. I imagined that the weight disparity between the two boats would be staggering. Yet, the cargo ship submitted to the leading of this tiny boat.
Then, of course, the verses from James popped into my mind:
“Or 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. Likewise, 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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body…No man can tame the tongue.” (James 3:4-7 NIV Bible)
In the world of boat and harbors, a tiny tug boat is a good thing.
But in the heart and mind of a woman who sincerely wants to bless people, my tiny tongue leads me where I don’t want to go.
My tongue expresses the real thoughts and intentions of my heart. It mocks my occasionally self-satisfied state, those days when I think I’ve got it all under control.
“Aha, you super-Christian. You think you’re so mature and godly. Well, if you’re so good, how come you just said what you said?”
And I recognize again, that I simply lean into wrong-doing as easily as a dog to a fire hydrant.
It’s a comfort to know I’m not a lone in my struggle to tame my errant tongue. I think that’s why the Apostle Paul said, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” (Col. 3:15)
My goal is to sideline my negative speech with words such as these:
- “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col. 3:16)
- “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:6)
- “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1)
- “Whoever of you lives life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34: 12-14)
What are your favorite verses on the subject?