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Your Tongue: Tonic or Toxic?

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Photo Credit: Sarah Joyce

(By Michelle Snippe)

A little while back, in my news feed, this partial verse from the Proverbs popped up:

“The tongue of the wise brings healing.”

I remember my first thought being, “Ouch!” because my tongue, too many times, has NOT aligned with this verse. Just ask my husband, my children, and even some of my friends…No, my tongue has not always brought healing to its listeners.

Then my thoughts began to wander over the past weeks and all of the words I have heard spoken. And all of the words I have read. Sadly, “healing” would not be the way I would describe many of them. Many of those non-restorative words belonged to others but, regrettably, some of them belonged to me. Rather than healing, I heard/read words that were full of complaint and attack, pride and self-righteousness, impatience and disrespect, gossip and malice. A plateful of poison, really, rather than apples of gold in a basket of silver!

We know that Scripture is littered with a plethora of verses regarding our words: what shouldn’t be said, what should be said, how it shouldn’t be said and how it should. And if we’re honest, godly speech is a challenge to each of us daily. But as a reminder (because I need it!) and an encouragement, have a look at some of the ways our speech ought to be characterized:

Our words ought to be:

  • guarded (Psalm 39:1)

  • soothing (Proverbs 15:4)

  • gentle (Proverbs 15:1)

  • pure (Proverbs 15:6)

  • edifying, grace-filled, seasoned with salt, etc.

These are only a few references encouraging a life-giving tongue, a tonic tongue. James is a key teacher on the tongue topic. Comparing the tongue to a fire, he gives us a sober picture of the long-lasting damage just a small, inappropriate word can inflict and how far it can spread. His subsequent words are convicting:

“With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.”

It is so contradictory that the heart full of the Holy Spirit would perform the works of the flesh. Yet, none of us is entirely exempt from this tendency. We also know, from Paul’s words to the Galatian believers, that battle between the Spirit and the flesh within is constant. But this doesn’t make excuse! For, nowhere, in any part of Scripture have I ever found where we have justification for spitting and spewing our words or demeaning or degrading another human being.

Never has there been a greater need to apply every godly, life-giving virtue to our words. And, not only to our audible words, but the ones we speak in our minds, the ones we whisper to another behind closed doors, as well as the ones we type or write.

As children of God, it is so important that our words bless others, give weight to, and be worthy of the gospel of Christ, bringing glory to Him.


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