Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Scourge of the Tongue

"Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue…" (Job 5:21)

Anyone who would agree with the old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me," must be both deaf and blind! Who among us can boast of never being hurt by something heard or read? In his list of seven troubles that sometimes befall us, Eliphaz, one of Job's friends, names the “scourge of the tongue" along with famine, death, war, the sword, destruction, and beasts. This is only one of many references in the Word of God to the power and propensity of the tongue for evil, culminating in James 3, where it is labeled, among other things, as being “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (v.8).

I suppose if I wrote on this subject daily, it would not be too much. I enjoy a good conversationalist, and clever speech can be very entertaining. But if we're not careful, a clever tongue can become a "cleaver tongue." We can cut away at our husband's ego, our children's self-confidence, and a friend's long-suffering, until we are no longer a pleasure to be around. A scourge is an instrument of pain that leaves scars after it is wielded, and it should not have to be used in the same sentence with the word “tongue.”

Today, let your tongue be used, not as a scourge, but as a solace to those around you. Take a lesson from the "virtuous woman" in Proverbs 31.

"[I]n her tongue is the law of kindness." (Prov. 31:26b)

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