Sticks and stones may break my bones but words…
…are uncontrollable and are like wildfires that can lead people astray and destroy you all.
We’ve all had those moments when words left our mouth and our hands began grasping in front of our face trying to grab the words and shove them back into our mouths. Alas, we could not and the damage was done. I can distinctly remember times when I spent nights sleepless with a sick feeling in my stomach just wondering how badly things would go because of words I wished I could have back. As you remember those moments, we’re going to put this on hold for a moment.
Most people, if asked to name the most influential people in their lives, would name family members, close friends, and likely teachers. Each of us could quickly name our favorite and most influential teachers from our lives (and least favorite and least effective as well). We all know this to some extent and it’s because we do that people get so upset when their children have teachers that teach a religious or political view different from their own. We know how influential teachers can be.
When we combine the two thoughts above, we arrive at the warning in James 3 that teachers must be so cautious because words are so powerful and teachers are so influential, the words of teachers have great weight. As my friend Lee would say, this is a good place to cite the Spiderman clause, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The larger point is rooted in Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 12 or Luke 6, that what comes out of the mouth is the overflow of the heart. So start by controlling what comes out of your mouth and it will begin to have an impact on the matters of the heart. James goes so far as to imply that if you can master your tongue, the hardest and most difficult part of the body to control, that you can master the rest.
You might be tempted to think that words are just words, but evil and good can’t come from the same source. So if evil is on your tongue…maybe you need to reevaluate what your saying.