“And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” — James 3:4-5 (NLT)
Last month, I was at the store buying a few items and turned the corner to be greeted by a stranger with a big “hello!” Taken back by his friendly, exuberant greeting, I gave a matching and enthusiastic “hello” in return. I didn’t want to be outdone! He then said something that struck me between the eyes, “I guess social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t be friendly!”
Our brief encounter has rattled around in my heart for weeks, and I started to notice how people have misinterpreted social distancing as being unfriendly and even rude. Many people won’t greet you, look at you or have a conversation with you. Unfortunately, we have been practicing social disconnecting not just social distancing.
In the middle of a global pandemic, we need each other more than ever. The way we practice social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t connect, can’t be friendly or can’t be relational. We need encouragers more than ever—like the one I encountered who spoke words of life and hope—with just a greeting. Yes, we need to keep six feet apart, but we can still use our words to touch hearts, regardless of physical distance. What we choose to say is one of the most powerful recourses we have during this pandemic, that is if we use it wisely.
It has been said that the human tongue weighs practically nothing, yet very few people can contain its power. The average human tongue weighs only two ounces, but it is considered one of the strongest muscles in the body. The tongue is a tough worker. Like the heart, it is always working—helping mix food, forming letters and sounds, filtering out germs. The tongue is an amazing part of our bodies, but it reveals more about a person’s spiritual life than physical. Truly, the tongue is the window to the soul.
Two of the most powerful ounces of body weight we possess are found in our tongues.
Where does the tongue get its incredible power? From the heart! There is a Scottish proverb that says, “When the heart is full, the tongue will speak.” Often, people will utter something and then quickly say, “I didn’t mean that.” Actually, they probably meant it, they just didn’t mean to say it. We mean everything we say, but we often don’t plan to allow our tongues to expose our hearts.
“The tongue is the only tool that gets sharper with use.”
— Washington Irving
In times of crisis, the issues of the heart are magnified. If there is hatred in a person’s heart, the tongue will spew criticism. Fear in the heart will bring negative words. An impure heart will produce foul speech. An undisciplined heart will result in sloppy language. Hurtful words will come from a wounded heart. But, conversely, if there is joy in a heart, encouragement will flow from the tongue. A peaceful heart will result in words of hope. Words of blessing will come from a secure heart. An honest heart will reveal a heart full of truth. In essence, the true key to controlling your tongue really is an issue of the heart.
The heart controls the tongue.
Our words can bring daily blessing or curses to those around us. The choice is ours – life or death! With so many letting garbage spill out from their mouths, we can be people who accentuate the positive with our words. Let others hear words of blessing, encouragement and positivity. Don’t let a day go by that others don’t hear life-giving messages. I’m glad God used a stranger at the store to remind me of the tongue’s power. He used his tongue to cut through the weirdness and awkwardness of our day and it brought a simple but powerful blessing.
Throughout FCA, we need to ask God for wise tongues that bring healing to our sports communities. So many coaches and athletes have experienced loss, and they are grieving. Our words drenched in hope, grace and love can heal broken hearts. This is the time for FCA to shine brighter—when the world has become darker.
Ask God to control your tongue by purifying your heart. Understand that your words will either bring healing or hurt, blessings or burdens, truth or torture. Let others know you as someone who has a tame tongue that speaks truth and life with two small ounces of power. Remember, coaches and athletes need us to use our tongues to connect, not distance. This is our time!
Father, thank You for the power of our words. I confess that, on my own, I can’t control my tongue and often use it to speak negative words and destruction. Still, I desire to accentuate the positive. I want my words to bring life and deliver Your truth, but it is so hard to control my tongue. First, please touch my heart. Cleanse it and purify it. Make my heart right so love spills out of my mouth. Then, may these two ounces of power be used for Your glory. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.