Get High On Life: The tongue is a restless evil

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 11, 2002


“I don’t know about you, but the one thing that has gotten me into more trouble than anything else has been my tongue. The Bible says that the tongue is a small part of the body and that it is a fire. It also says that every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

My tongue has been used many times in the wrong way. I’ve used it in deceitful flattery many times. I am also guilty of slander, tale-bearing, and gossip. If that is not enough wrong usage, I’ve also allowed my tongue to get me into arguments, strife, and I’ve spit out many angry words. In fact, I was guilty of this twice last week.

Finally, the tongue can be used for boasting and foolish talking. In other words, some things would be better left unsaid.

A few months ago, while riding across the Causeway, my wife was reading a book. She suddenly said, “Harold, listen to this,” and she quoted, “It would be better for a person to remain silent and for people to think he’s a fool than to prove it by opening his mouth.” Curiously and defensively, I asked her why she thought it was necessary to read that to me. “Just thought you’d like it!” was her reply. In my heart, I knew better. It was directed to me as a reproof.

Profanity and vulgarity are other ways that people use the tongue in an ungodly manner. If these aren’t enough bad uses of the tongue, we further use it to lie and exaggerate. In my lifetime, I’m sorry to say that I have mastered all the wrong uses of the tongue.

You must be wondering if there are any good uses of the tongue. The answer is yes, but I’m not as familiar with those. The right uses of the tongue are to give wise counsel, sound advice, reproof, rebuke and spiritual exhortation. One of the best uses of the tongue is one that not too many of us are familiar with, and that’s encouragement. The Bible states that pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. A well-timed word has the power to urge a runner to finish the race, to rekindle hope when despair has set in, and to spark a bit of warmth in an otherwise cold life.

Last, but not least, the tongue should be used for us to witness what God has done in our lives, to teach the truth about the kingdom of God, and to comfort the lonely, hurting people all around us.

Yes, the tongue can be used for good or evil. How we use it depends on us. Is the tongue really as powerful as it seems? The answer is yes.

HAROLD KELLER writes this column as part of his affiliation with the Get High on Life religious motivational group. Call him at (985) 652-8477 or write to P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084.