For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things, James 3:2-5, ESV.
Well visits. The times scheduled to take the kids to the doctor to be sure they are growing properly, eating right, and growing as they should. We used to call them “check ups.” One of the things I noticed the last time we were in for a “check up,” was the tongue depressor tumbler. The tongue depressors sit in a clear glass tumbler on the doctor’s table. They are clean, rounded pieces of wood that she can use to hold down the tongue so she can get a better look further in. She used the depressor to control the tongue—to keep it out of the way while she was examining the tonsils, throat, etc. The amusing part for me was when she would ask a question, but not move the depressor off the tongue as my child answered. His speech was limited, but he was still able to get his message across.
What if we took God at His Word and allowed His Word to depress our tongues? Our passage today tells us that if we do not stumble in our speech, we can be perfect. But, God sure does know that is impossible for us! That’s why His Word must depress our tongues—it needs to make us stop and think before we speak. Do we really need to say that sarcastic comment? Depress it. Do we really need to spurt those angry words? Depress it. Do we really need to make that hurtful sound bite to “get back” at that person? Depress it. Can we say something kind? Let that message get out! Can we encourage and build others up? By all means, even as we depress our selfish, sinful words, we can get a message of hope and love across to a lost and dying world! We can be like my son, who answered the doctor’s questions, even with the depressor on his tongue. It kept his tongue out of the way as she examined him, just as God’s Word can hold our tongue as God examines our hearts and makes sure we are spiritually healthy.
Come to think of it, I think I am going to ask the doctor for a tongue depressor at my next visit, just to remind me to depress those negative words and keep the positive ones coming!
Thought-provoker: How is your tongue depressor working? Are you applying God’s Word, the Bible, to your speech?
Lord, help us to speak kindness, encouragement, and love into the lives of others and to allow Your Word to depress anything else! Amen.