May 20, 2009
The Forgotten Vital Organ
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21
I have decided that many, many medical textbooks are wrong. Each and every one of them has actually left out a vital organ. Yes, they’ve remembered the heart and the brain and even that strange thing called a pancreas (I know it’s important, I just forget why sometimes). But look through the books all you want, and you’ll find not one mention of the most obvious vital organ of all: the tongue.
Then again, I myself often choose to ignore the importance of the tongue. I’d rather not believe it has “the power of life and death.” I’d like to pretend my tongue is more like an appendix or a gall bladder – easy to forget about because it’s not that important – but that’s just not the case. Snapping at my family when I’m tired, nagging, and complaining all release a poison from my tongue that works its way through my whole being (James 3:6). Not only that, I infect others with my attitudes and motivations. I begin to spread a disease.
Contrast that with the “words of the wise,” as Proverbs calls it many times. Their words heal and strengthen as they spread encouragement, wisdom, peace, and the Gospel message. Oh, and – get this – they actually use their tongues less than other people. The more powerful the tongue, the less it needs to be used. It’s like the heart of a well-trained athlete – when someone is really in shape, the beats per minute actually decrease as the heart becomes more and more efficient. In the same way, why don’t I condition my tongue to speak fewer words with more meaning?
In Genesis 1, God spoke into the darkness, and there was light. Those “mere words” created something from nothing, showing the power of speaking out. My pastor in college told us that this verse had meaning for us, too, since we are created in God’s image. We are meant to speak out and bring light from the darkness as He did. That’s the power of the tongue in a crazy world. The question is whether we choose to speak light or just add to the darkness.
That little muscle called the tongue holds the power of life and death. That’s no small matter. So let’s be careful how we exercise it.
Intersection of Faith & Life: Grab a concordance and look up the words “mouth” and “tongue.” The reference lists are extensive. It gets even bigger if you include the words “speak” and “words.” Then, take a seven day challenge to “tame the tongue” in just one way. Try encouraging instead of complaining. Even taming just that one area is like trying to control a wildfire (James 3:5). Don’t get discouraged, but take each opportunity to thank God for the “new song” that He has given you to sing (Psalms 40:3).