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The Weapon of Choice (published in The North Weld Herald 9/3/09)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:14 PM by Fccea Webmaster
At a country store in Vermont, a woman was berating the proprietor about everything from his prices to the fact that it was raining. After she left, the proprietor muttered to himself, "That woman's got enough mouth for two sets of teeth."

It's small, pink, soft to the point of mushiness, and quite unattractive. If you just saw one lying around it would be the last thing that you would ever choose as a weapon. It has no weight, no sharp edges, and appears perfectly harmless. But how appearances deceive!

It is, of course, the tongue. And it is capable of wrecking havoc -- at home, in the workplace, and even among nations. The Bible says it this way, "So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!" (Jas. 3:5).

At times, we are not even aware of the pain we are in inflicting. At other times we inflict pain knowingly but subtly to avoid direct accusation -- clearly the act of a coward. And, of course, there are times when we are quite direct.

One quick-tempered man defended his reputation by saying, "It passes; it is done with quickly." To which a friend wisely replied, "So does a shotgun blast." What damage the tongue can inflict in short order.

Interestingly enough, however, this same small weapon can be used for great good. The Bible says in Proverbs 12:18, "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. I love the fact that this organ which can start the damaging forest fire can also be used to bring healing. It's like fire; it can be overwhelmingly destructive, or it can be wonderfully soothing. It all depends on how it's used.

Give Wynton Marsalis a trumpet and we would all be in for a stupendous evening. Put the same trumpet into the hands of an unskilled beginner and the audience would be short-lived. In one case, years of intentional thought, practice and careful cultivation of an ability have paid rich dividends. In the second case, lack of thoughtful practice and restraint cannot overcome good intention.

So it is with the tongue. When used in a careless, unpracticed and undisciplined manner it is devastating. It brings healing only when careful attention is given to what is spoken. Mastery of the tongue requires thoughtful consideration of previous failures, and careful preparation for handling similar situations differently in the future. It further requires the acquired facility of not speaking before thinking.

When used in a controlled and practiced manner it can be as devastatingly effective for good as it has previously been for evil. The Bible says, "With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone."

In short, the same tongue can be wielded as an agent for evil or as a means of grace. It is a weapon of choice in the sense that it is we, the owners, who determine which it will be in our case. But our decision will benefit or hurt everyone around us.

We don't want to be like the guy who announced to his wife one evening that he had an appointment the next day with the dentist to have his bite adjusted. "You tell him for me," she remarked, "to adjust your bark as well." With intentional, practiced discipline, no one will find it necessary to say the same to us.

By His Grace, Pastor Dave