The Small Part
“So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites.” James 3:5
The potential of the tongue may reach the highest mountain of delight or sink to the lowest valley of discouragement. God's word gives multiple examples of how our tongue can be helpful, hurtful and harnessed.
The tongue is helpful and beneficial. It can promote church unity. “Only let your manner of life (conversation) be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27).
It also gives a powerful testimony to all God has done. “'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” ( Mark 5:19, 20). And with the tongue we worship our Lord, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:15).
The tongue can also cause great hurt and trouble. The tongue can speak words of wisdom or words of anger (Proverbs 15:1) Our tongues have a tendency to speak evil and deceit (Psalms 34:13). Proverbs 18:21 tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Our words can be as harmful as a serpent’s venom, “They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps.” (Psalm 140:3). The tongue is the major culprit in spreading gossip which has been described as, “the art of saying nothing while leaving nothing unsaid.”
Often one hears, “Oh! My tongue gets me into so much trouble. How can I ever control it?” Or, “Sometimes I just need to bite my tongue.” Because the tongue is such a small part of our body, it often trips us. We need to keep in mind the damage the tongue can do in the destruction of relationships. How can we harness our tongues? James tells us that no man can tame the tongue by himself (James 3:8). Therefore, we need to begin each day with prayer and God’s Word, seeking the Holy Spirit’s help in controlling the tongue. We need to exercise patience and take our time to think before answering (James 1:19). Think of others more highly than yourselves. (Philippians 2:1-4). Refrain from controlling the conversation or manipulating people. Resolve to make your tongue a blessing to all and a blight to none.
A harnessed tongue can bring great blessing to others along the path of life.