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Sermon #86: Mind Your Tongue!

Never take your tongue for granted.

The tongue is a very valuable piece of equipment but only if deployed from the launch-pad of wisdom. If deployed anyhow, the tongue always proves to be a very dangerous chemical weapon that destroys not only the intended victims, but its owner as well. 

So never take your tongue for granted.

Consider this: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:12, NIV).

Now look at this: “The 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…” (James 3:6, NIV).

The Bible contains a lot of useful teaching on the subject.

For a start, let’s focus on the following verse: My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19, NIV).

There are so many people who are currently living with deep regrets because of the words that they recklessly uttered. The words have brought great misery, discomfort and embarrassment to them that they now wish they had never uttered them. This situation arose because the people spoke or responded in haste.

Unfortunately, outside Parliament it’s not easy to eat back one’s words; what has been said cannot be ‘unsaid’, and an apology might not work either. If only these people had listened to James! James teaches people to be quick to listen but slow to speak.

But some people are by choice slow to listen and quick to speak, resulting in debris all over the place!

Let me give you a punching statement: “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20, NIV). Never belittle these words; they proceeded from the mouth of a very wise man.

Applying his wisdom, the man undertook a study on how people were using their tongues, and from the results that he got he concluded that a person who speaks in haste is worse than a fool in status. A fool has more hope in life than a man who speaks in haste.

Just imagine this; you might not consider yourself a fool, but if you speak in haste then you have less hope than a fool. If this is the case, why would you still insist on being quick to speak? Train yourself to listen and to think before you speak; you should never permit floods to burst the banks of your mouth!

As I continued to read my Bible, I came across a statement that got me seriously thinking. Here goes: “No man can tame the tongue” (James 3:8, NIV).

We surely need the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in this regard. We need to surrender this deadly gadget to its Maker!

We might try to tame the tongue on our own, but we always come short of the real deal. There are several people who have vowed never to speak in a certain manner only to catch themselves doing exactly that which they had vowed not to! Such people often touch their lips and exclaim, “Poor me, I have just said it!” So, no man can tame the tongue; what we need is to surrender this gadget to the One who can tame it for us.

We have established that a person who speaks in haste is more hopeless than a fool. Let us now consider the position of the one who always uses their tongue wisely.

Listen to this: “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2, NIV). Praise God! This is an important statement. Do you identify with it?

The verse states that if you can control your tongue, then you can control the other organs of your body. But if you deploy your tongue in a reckless manner, then there is a high likelihood that you also deploy the remainder of your organs in a similar way. This will surely land you on a very hard place - it's only a matter of time!

The other lesson that I got from the Bible is that the tongue has an unparalleled ability to create specific situations.

Depending on how you deploy it, the tongue could be an architect of either order or chaos in your life. The way you speak makes you either a construction worker or a member of the demolition team. It is true that one sentence can bring sparkling sunshine across the whole world; another can send heat waves of sorrow and suffering to the entire human race.

I have learnt a thing or two from what God did when He created the heavens and the earth; the first being an appreciation of the power of creation embedded in our tongues and the second being the need for each one of us to use the tongue only in a manner that results in the common good.

If you read the story of creation in Genesis Chapter 1 you will note that God used specific words to create the universe that He had first captured in His imagination. For example, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Gen. 1:3,NIV). If you continue to read the chapter you’ll see statements like, “God said…and it was so,” meaning whatever God commanded to come into existence did come into existence. We do so daily, sometimes in an absent-minded kind of way.

Each day there are people using their tongues to create evil; there also are people deploying their tongues to create wonders. We need to be very careful what we say, because by what we say we create what we want to see! Never take your tongue for granted, ndapota zvangu!

The most touching part about the story of creation is this: “And God saw all that he had made and it was very good” (Gen: 1:31). I am humbled. This is a challenge for you and me.

This is what happened in this case: First, God captured in his mind the kind of picture that He intended to produce. After that He spoke certain words to bring forth the desires of His heart. Second, God looked at what He had produced and saw that it was not just good, but very good.

Consider for a moment the kind of words that you used yesterday. What did they produce? Was the product of such words good or bad? If it was good, was it very good?

This is the lesson: You should never start by speaking; rather, you should start by listening and then establishing that which you intend to create by your speech. You then go on to use words to bring about your desire.

But in doing so you need to learn from God. In the story of creation mentioned earlier you should have noted that God decided to create something good and used relevant words to bring it to life. After creating it, He evaluated it and found it to be very good. So G9od was satisfied by the product of His tongue.

I implore you never to be satisfied by something that on evaluation turns out to be very bad!

I encourage you to think about these issues always. Keep training your tongue in the Lord. Do not give up if at the first, second and third attempts you don’t succeed; surely someday you will become a perfect person who can control first his tongue, then the rest of his/her organs.

What a joy it would be for the world for just one more person to take dominion over their tongue!

God bless!