David spoke of his tongue as a pen (Ps. 45:1) and his enemies’ tongues as sharp swords (Ps. 57:4). We learn that God hates a tongue which forms lies (Prov. 6:17). Isaiah prophesied a future time so happy that it would case “the tongue of the dumb [to] sing” (Isa. 35:6). The ungodly tongue is described by Jeremiah as a “deadly arrow” (Jer. 9:8). James calls the unruly tongue a “fire” (Js. 3:6).
The tongue is unique among the body’s members. It has so many uses. With taste buds, it judges the palatability of the food we consume. With sensitive nerves, it screens the temperatures of the food and drink which enter the mouth. William McPherson, who lost his sense of sight, hearing, and all four limbs in a mining explosion, used his tongue to read the Bible in Braille. Coordinating with brain and various, undergirding muscles, the tongue is that powerful tool of communication responsible for speech and song. Like so much of what God created, it is a neutral invention. According to how it is used, the tongue is either a blessing or curse upon families, communities, and nations. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.” How can we identify a tongue positively used?
A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL NOT BACKBITE. Those who wield their tongues positively will say something nice, or at least say nothing at all, about an occupant on the “rumor mill.” in fact, we should use our tongues to stop the backbiting of others (Prov. 25:23). A Welsh proverb goes, “Lord, remind us often that a gossip’s mouth is the devil’s mailbag.” Remember, there’s only one thing more difficult than unscrambling an egg and that’s unspreading a rumor. We wish only the best for others. We don’t want to contribute to another’s harm or embarrassment by saying or repeating something evil about them behind their back (Ps. 15:1; Rom. 1:30; 2 Cor. 12:20).
A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL SPEAK GOD’S WORD. On multiple occasions, the psalmist pledged to use his tongue this way (71:24; 119:172). When opportunities with our neighbors and friends clearly present themselves, how can we refrain our tongues from speaking Bible truth and divine expectations? When the Bible is disparaged in our presence, how can we hold back our tongues from defending words more precious than gold? God’s Word contain “glad tidings” (Acts 13:32; Lk. 8:1; Rom. 10:15).
A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL SPEAK WHOLESOME WORDS. The Bible praises those who use wholesome words (Prov. 15:4; 1 Tim. 6:5). Profanity, vulgar stories, suggestive language and sexual innuendos do not drop off of a positive, wholesome tongue. Instead, we speak words that improve and sustain our good character.
A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL BE BRIDLED. That’s how you know who is religious (Js. 1:26). A hot head and a positive tongue don’t rest in the same skull. A blessing tongue and a cursing tongue do not lead to the same end (1 Pet. 3:10-11). A hypocritical tongue and a sincere tongue cannot belong to the same individual (1 Jn. 3:18). Self-control includes tongue-control.
Someone has written, “To speak kindly does not hurt the tongue.” It may only be about three inches long, but it can be trained not to do miles of damage. It can be positively controlled. A bridle for the tongue is a necessary tool which, when used, will cause one to be a shining light in the house of God.