The Power of the Tongue
By Jim Honeycutt, Chaplain-Baptist Minister
After a restless night where my mind continued to replay over and over the events of the previous day, I feel Mac, my Vizsla, stirring at my feet. Lifting my head to look his way, a tongue quickly greets my face. Not yet I plead, let me lay here a bit longer….please. With his tail wagging a mile a minute Mac seems to say, come on you’ve laid around long enough. After rolling over to look at the clock I turn back to him. But before I can say another word, poof, he is gone, running downstairs. I hear him whining at the back door ready to go out. Man, I think to myself, I did not intend to get up before 5am. Oh well, no use putting off the inevitable. As my feet hit the floor the pain of my planters fasciitis runs up my leg. Not today Lord, please not today. I didn’t sleep hardly at all and this is not making it any easier to get out of bed. Limping over to my orthopedic slides, I slip them on while heading to let Mac out. Softly in the back of my mind I hear the name James. Since everyone calls me Jim or Jimmy I’m a little confused. Without turning on any lights I reach the back door letting the dogs out to do their business. Should I go back to bed for a bit or just go on and make coffee? Once again, the name James resounds in my mind. Deciding to do nether of those things I limp over to my recliner and sit in the dark. Feeling heavy and down because of an argument I had the day before with a loved one, I just sit there. Letting it eat at me. How could I have been so careless with my words. At nearly sixty years old, why do I let things said in frustration to me solicit such a strong response? Particularly when it is someone I love so much. Why can’t I control my tongue better? Again, James is spoken, this time a little louder. Looking over to the coffee table next to my recliner, I see my I-Pad. Picking it up to read the news I find the Bible app open. James once again is pressing upon me. Realizing now why, I say, sorry Father, I’m a little slow witted this morning. I’ve got these hurt feelings on my mind.
I thought you gave those to me last night before you went to bed son, The Spirit whispers. I know, I thought I did too, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Read James, then let’s talk. So pulling up the book of James in The New Testament I start. Quickly the words of the Scripture begin to flow into my heart as sorrow begins to flow from my eyes. Like a scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon The Lord shows me the pain that not only I felt, but had inflicted on my Dear One, had come directly from my selfish ego. If I may, I would like to share with you a part of the lesson God is teaching me. First the Scripture as found in James I:19-22 reads…My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says! Looking at myself honestly, I must confess I don’t listen all that well. It’s worse when I am dealing with a relative or close friend. I often don’t let a person finish speaking before I jump in trying to make my point. And then when it is not received, I can most assuredly lose my cool. You know what happens then, feelings begin to control the conversation. The more raw feelings control the situation the less true communication takes place. In this case not only did I get angry, I began to use the language of sarcasm which is the exact opposite of the language of love. I have always thought moral filth were things like drunkenness, lying, coveting or promiscuous behavior. But the Holy Spirit convicted me of my hard headedness, my personalization of criticism and my tendency to verbally overreact to confrontation when I feel attacked. All of these things are filth when compared to the Glorious Love given us in Jesus Christ. I really seem to have acted in bizarro world truths, where I was quick to speak, quicker to get angry and extremely slow to listen. As the sun begins to rise and the light of dawn breaks, I pray that in The Power of God’s love I will remember and take to heart James 1:26-27 which reads…If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. I am trusting that as God helps me mature in Him, He will restore to fullness the relationships I have sabotaged by my careless tongue.