A Brief Meditation for the Month

March 2019

In his short epistle, the apostle James draws attention to the power and influence of what he describes as “a little member” of the body—the tongue. The apostle describes the tongue as “an unruly evil,” James 3:8. It is such a small member of the body and yet it is described as a fire and a world of iniquity, while its destructive power has its source in hell, James 3:6. What damage the tongue is therefore capable of doing. How dangerous and hurtful it can be! Yet how guilty we often are of its misuse. It was one of the complaints of Job regarding his friends who spoke so critically to him, “How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?” Job 19:2. James makes the observation, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2.

Each of us are “wonderfully and fearfully made,” Psalm 139:14. We are the unique creation of the all-wise God who does all things well. Our uniqueness in all of creation is that we were created in the image of God himself. We read “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27. Man has been created as a rational creature with amazing faculties and potential to bring glory to God. Unlike the brute creation, man does not merely act upon instinct. He can think, reason, and will, making use of his mind and limbs to be creative, productive, and enterprising. The gift of speech enables him to communicate his thoughts to others who can understand him. While thoughts are invisible things, words make them visible to the minds of those to whom they are addressed. Thoughts, when converted into words reveal the condition of the mind, whether for example, it is a sad mind, or a happy mind, whether the person speaking is distressed, angry, excited, joyful, or anxious. Words can also testify to good or evil intentions within the heart. The tongue can utter honest or deceitful words. Our tongues serve our minds, yet how often if we stopped to think about our utterances, we might be surprized to realize how many thoughtless, and unnecessary words, we speak every day of our lives.

How different it was in the case of the Lord Jesus. He was exemplary in the use of his tongue. He was described as the one, in fact the only one, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” I Peter 2:22–23. Everything our Saviour uttered with his tongue was thoughtful and deliberate. Some of those who heard him speak, testified, “Never man spake like this man,” John 7:46. After all, Jesus was the eternal Son of God. He was, “the word” made flesh. He was the very express image of the Father’s person, Hebrews 1:3. Thus, he spoke as God when addressing men, conveying to them the great and majestic mind and purpose of God. Jesus could state: “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. This was recognized and acknowledged by Simon Peter, when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. The Saviour’s words were spoken in order to profit the hearer. Are ours? Every Christian should remember that Christ Jesus suffered in order to atone for the sins of the tongue. A very humbling thought! Our daily prayer must be that of the Psalmist, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3.

G. G. Hutton.