“The tongue as small as it is can boast about great things. Just think how large a forest can be set on fire by a tiny flame; and the tongue is like a fire. It is a world of wrong occupying its place in our bodies and spreading evil through our whole being. It set on fire the entire course of our existence with the fire that comes to it from hell itself” (James 3:6). The tongue is known to be the smallest part of the body, as small as it is the tongue is capable of doing a lot of things. It can be used to destroy, to mend, to build and to scatter. The tongue is so powerful that it need to be tamed because if it is not tamed it may go as far as doing what is bad. Through the power of the tongue pronouncement of different kinds are made either good or bad. In Genesis chapter 1 God made pronouncements in creating the world. God said let there be light and light appeared, He went further to say let the day be separated from night and it came to be (Genesis 1 :3). This indicated that the tongue is the brain behind every pronouncement made. Words are made from the tongue and should be used prudently, words are manipulative in nature. It can be used to bring peace and at the same time used to constitute war. Words are not created in a vacuum; the tongue is the instrument that is used to carry out the message. The tongue can be compared to a sword that is used for war; it can be used to kill many without a sign attached to it. One may not see it physically you would see the work it has done after the war. The size of the sword is very small compared to the work it has done, so also the tongue though small as it is can be used to destroy a lot of things.
However, many a time we use our tongue without considering the implications or consequences. When things are going out of hand we try as much as possible to control or chain them, but in the case of the tongue it is not realistic. “Every kind of beast, and birds and serpent and including things in the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”. (James 3: 7 – 8). From the above scriptural passage we could see that the tongue can be used for many negative things due to the fact that it contains deadly poison if not controlled. These poisons are manifested in various areas such as: cursing, lying, gossip and backbiting.
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Many people do not know how to use their tongue, the tongue is one of the gifts God has given to us, and we should use it well. Some people are known for their negative use of their tongue through cursing. By cursing, I mean people who are known for using their tongue negatively through the pronouncement of abusive words to bring people down or lay negative predicament on people’s lives, curse is something negative and it is used to destroy human existence or thwart the path of an individual. As Christians we should avoid every form of curse that is capable of destroying lives or our existence. Another negative use of the tongue is lying, by lying I mean some people who find it difficult to say the truth, their tongue have become so poisonous that it can no longer tell the truth. When a person find it difficult to say the truth then we could say such a person is not of God because God Himself is the truth. When we tell the truth we are representing God. Due to the fact that we are made in Gods’ image and likeness people who tell the truth are seen as enemy of the society. They suffer because they cannot tolerate evil. Their tongues are blessed because they are symbol of light to the world that is full of darkness and deceit. They do not deceive or mislead people with their tongue. They serve as a strong shield for the society and as well as backbones for the weak. The tongue that lies destroys the society because it serves as a poison. Poisons are known to kill and destroy so also a lying tongue is capable of destroying the society because of it negative effects. Initially, it may not be noticed, many a time we discover that lies do spread for a very long time and the worst part of it is that it travels very fast but once the truth is found it lose it threshold. People who are known for this kind of attitude should try as much as possible to turn a new leaf because it pays to be transparent and straight forward. As Christians, it is our bounding duty, to train our tongue, to avert its negative effect on our lives, and those around us.
Gossip and backbiting is the most common activities carried out by the tongue by most people because it is very easy to find in every nook and cranny of the society. In the offices among the staff either they gossip among themselves or they gossip about their boss. Most of these words are negative and are capable of destroying the reputation of the person in question. The most dangerous part of this gossip is that after the discussion, it would still leak out and the person in question would not be happy or find it difficult to believe perpetrators again. Those who engaged in this kind of evil would also use their poisonous tongue to deny everything, putting the whole house in confusion mostly if it happens in an organisation. Also backbiting is bad because we use our tongue to bite and at the same time stab others at their back, it often happen among people who are very close to you or people who feel they know you so well and they are ready to say negative things about you. Many a time we discovered that this do not normally go down well, this is the more reason why we should try to do away with it all because of it negative effect afterwards.
In the letter of James 3: 9 -10 we were told that “we use the tongue to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse our fellow man, who is created in the likeness of God. Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth my brethren, thus should not happen”. From the above scriptural passage we would see that there is need for us to contain our tongue so that it would not cause our down fall. The tongue should be seen as a sacred object when put in use due to the fact that we use it as an instrument of worship and thanksgiving. According to the letter of Saint James, he says that the same tongue should not be used to engage in anything devilish. As Christians we are warned to discipline our tongue so that it would not cause our ruin. Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are expected to imitate Him and also use the tongue for things that are good, pure and holy. There is always power in the tongue that is the more reason we should try to treat the tongue as a sacred object not just as a mere organ of the body. “The tongue has the power of life and death” (proverb 18:21).
By Margaret Ogbebor SSMA who is a Catholic Nun, working in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. She is the Head Teacher of St Martin de Porres Nursery and Primary School Katsina. firstname.lastname@example.org