Tempered Tongues and Holy Hands
The tongue is the muscle in your body associated with the most powerful ability you and every other human being has: the power to produce words! If you are breathing air, someone in your past has spoken words that have built you up or torn you down. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Think about it—the sounds you produce consisting of syllables, formed of vowels and consonants, have the ability to bring life to someone or can bring death to a relationship in a matter of milliseconds!
Because of this little revelation, this month’s article focuses on how our words help us develop or destroy the relationships we build as teens and young adults. Having worked with teens for over ten years in different capacities, I have observed from my work experience and recalled from my own teen years that adolescents can be some of the kindest or most brutal with their words. When we are around those with whom we are most comfortable, we let our guard down and do not tailor our words as much. Our statements can be painful because we are reacting out of temporary frustration. If we’re not careful—and most of the time we are not—we vent our anger verbally and say things that others take to heart.
Karen Ehman, author of the book, “Keep it Shut: What to Say, How to Say It and When to Say Nothing at All,” notes that there are over 3500 scriptures relating to words, speech, and silence addressing how we should and shouldn’t speak. Matthew 12:34 reads “From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” After we say something, we may wish we hadn’t said it, but there was first a thought before the words ever came out. We dwelt on something because of an attitude inside of us. It becomes part of us and suddenly, it just comes out in the form of words.
The Book of James has much to say about our words. If we’re not careful, one little spark of a comment can ignite a family feud and burn bridges forever. The book of James also addresses the tongue in James 3:8: “No man can tame the tongue.” We’re never going to be perfect in what we say. No one can tame the tongue. We can temper it. We can make progress, but we are never going to be perfect.
To complicate matters, the twenty-first century has witnessed the birth and growth of social media. For today’s generation of students, it has always existed. They have grown up with it. Social media creates an environment of partial anonymity where people can’t see us face-to-face so we feel we can say whatever we want about ourselves, our family members, or anyone else. Somehow we feel empowered sitting behind that screen, so we say things we would probably never say in person.
All scripture that talks about how we are to use our words applies to whether we are speaking with our mouths or typing away on the keyboard. Those are still our words, and they still matter, whether spoken, written, texted, tweeted, or posted. What we are saying or posting all comes down to the motive of our hearts. During our adolescent years, we must remember we are particularly vulnerable to peer opinion and peer pressure. We are trying to figure out who we are and pay close attention to what others say. And social media at times can be the constant, chronic provider of criticism.
As we think about our relationships with our parents, our siblings, our youth groups and classmates, the words we speak or type mold and shape our relationships. They build our reputations. We would do well to heed the words of James 1:19-20, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger….” Think before you speak, and think before you type. After all, words can pierce pretty deep. And what you post on social media never goes away.
Let us be wise with our words by tempering our tongues and maintaining holy hands that post words of life, not death, into others.
Chad Flowers is married to his best friend and teammate, Mendy. He’s a daddy to two incredible little girls, Jadyn and Keira, and one son, Chandler. He lives in Mesquite, Texas where he has a private practice as a licensed professional counselor and serves as pastor of Emmanuel Pentecostal Church.