Shell-shocked, I watched the battle unfold.
Someone made a casual remark. In response, another person commented with just a word…one careless word.
No offense was intended.
But instead of ricocheting off the eardrums, the thoughtless word detonated on impact like a grenade. The blast cut deep, pierced the heart, and drew blood.
Like a mad dog, the injured soul retaliated; inviting a rash of venomous words.
This wasn’t an attack from the enemy. This was friendly fire wounding its own.
“No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.
My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (James 3:8-10).
“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
I sang those words as a child whenever I stood in the line of fire. My feeble attempt to mask the pain, pretend it didn’t hurt.
As a teenager, I gave up childish rhymes and suffered the pain; tried to forget. “You’re ugly, the teenage boy told me years ago. I doubt that he remembers, but I do.
Now I stoically remove the arrows that sting. Dodge verbal bullets as best I can. Feel my heart thump whenever I hear youth tease and taunt each other with tongues sharp as swords.
“A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with constant use.”~ Washington Irving.
But who am I to speak?
Hasn’t my own tongue lashed others, criticized, and gossiped? Used playful sarcasm to camouflage offensive truth? Sometimes, I fool myself. Believe I’ve bridled my tongue, when in fact I spoke behind the person’s back.
“My brethren, these things ought not to be.”
What’s the problem?
Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34).
So when the tongue is out of control, I can wash my mouth with soap, or go to the Heart of the problem and …
Search my heart, confess my sin.
Read the words Jesus spoke which “are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).
Pray that “no unwholesome talk comes out of (MY) mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”(Ephesians 4:29).