The Power of the Tongue

Adrianne Lewis' long tongue (1)

“For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” James 3:2

Adrianne Lewis (pictured above) is an eighteen-year-old teenager with an odd talent: having a four-inch tongue!

According to the YouTube video, her mother discovered her daughter had a long tongue when she was ten or twelve. Adrianne’s tongue allows her to touch her chin, nose, elbow–even her eye! (using her hands).

Adrianne’ s long tongue story prompts me to consider the spiritual and emotional power the tongue holds. If someone, like Adrianne Lewis, can perform such astonishing tricks with her tongue to impress–and, possibly, scare–others, cannot Christians use it to uplift and encourage one another?

Think we have full control of the words that exit our mouths? Believe we reflect on the repercussions they carry, at all times?

I think not.

We don’t always consider the effects our words exert on others–until we damage the person’s emotions and observe the consequences. Then, we realize we offended him or her, resulting in their animus (animosity) toward us. Words can heal and hurt. Consider the effects it carries on people around you–public and private.

The tongue is a small, yet potent, weapon. It can bring life or death for the words we choose nourish or destroy one another.  The two verses illustrate that:

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)

“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4 (NIV)

In James 3:8-12, James explains our inability to control the tongue: “….but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.”

James is right. How can we praise God (who is invisible to us), yet curse his creation (which is visible)? It aligns with 1 John 4:20: “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,[a] that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?”

In a previous blog post, I mentioned swearing was among my pet peeves.

What swearing does is the following: 1) diminishes our vocabulary for it restricts us from expanding our minds to adopt novel or mature words, 2) offends, or insults, others, and 2) makes us appear ignorant since all we seem to know is four-letter words to express our emotions.

I believe people cuss for two reasons: habit and choice.  I asseverate that millions of Americans have formed a bad habit into using such obscene words because these words appear in our culture–social media, television, books, movies, music, etc.– that we become accustomed to using them in our everyday conversation when we are happy, sad, angry, fearful, surprised, etc.  Also, we choose to use such words. Sometimes, though, our positive and negative feelings cause us to abuse words to attack verbally another individual. Ultimately, we decide what we say and how we say it.

Next time you feel like swearing, ask God to help you control your tongue.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1


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