Posted by January 11, 2012on
It has been said that words frame our world. I’ve found that learning to guide my tongue can be a real challenge.
Lately I have turned my thoughts to how I am using my words and how they are affecting others.
While reading in James 3:1-6 and considering the untamable tongue, I thought over some stories that my husband has shared with me about the years that he was in the Navy. His description of the large ship that he was assigned to has helped me to visualize an analogy James used:
“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” (James 3:4).
James compares our tongue to this rudder, which shows the tremendous power it possesses.
It has been said that words frame our world, and we can do harm and good with the words we speak. Learning to guide my tongue has been an ongoing challenge.
Sometimes the words come out like too much toothpaste squeezed out of the tube—you just can’t squeeze it back in! You usually have a real mess on your hands. Unfortunately, washing the toothpaste mess off of your hands is much easier than fixing the damage caused by wrong or even unintentionally hurtful words.
Think before you speak
Washington Irving said it memorably: “A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with constant use.”
His quote reminds me of Solomon’s instruction: “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Proverbs 12:18).
This reminds me to develop wisdom—to incorporate the whole “think before you speak” principle.
God’s Word for guidance
Our Heavenly Father, in all of His patience and love, has much to say about our words and how they can affect others. For me, taking the time to examine some of these passages has been an excellent Bible study process. As in anything, of course, the application of what I learn is the key to success.
I am still trying to steer my vessel in the right direction. With God’s help, I will hopefully be constantly more aware and thus be able to keep an even keel.
Vicki Willoughby and her husband of 39 years, Jack, live in northwest Arkansas where they attend the Springdale congregation of Church of God, a Worldwide Association.
For more biblically based study about our words and communication, see: