I work with teenagers every day. One lesson teenagers often have not fully learned is the power of the sword they carry sheathed between their teeth.
In moments of frustration they may whip out their sword and slash hateful words across those who dare cross them. Name-calling, ridicule, belittling stories, bullying.
I’m often aware that teenagers do see the bleeding hearts left after their outbursts. They can relish in watching their fallen foe writhe in pain as they twist the sword deeper.
Their human tendency is to wipe the blood off their sword onto the victim’s tunic after the blows have fallen. Something like, “You deserved it.” Or, “Next time you’ll think before you make me upset.”
Such ruinous actions are tied up with the unholy tongue of every person, but many of the techniques are learned at home, either sparring with siblings, or worse, clashing with parents.
A parent should lift their voice and lash out at their child exactly as often as God has done so to the parent. Take your example for parenting from the Father.
“The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.”
Psalms 145:8-9 NKJV
Those sword fights play out in other places than home and school, ending up at work or anywhere people rub each other the wrong way.
James says that man’s tongue is a deadly fire and a world of evil. Do you realize what power you hold in your mouth?
“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.
The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.
My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
James 3:5-10 NKJV
We cannot tame our tongues. But God can. If your words slip out as hurtful forces of destruction, that is an indication of a mouth and heart not fully surrendered to God.
It is not only young people who wield their tongues in violence against others. Many practice to improve their swordmanship to greater deadly precision with time. Some become skilled assassins.
More wield their tongues without thought, chopping up their children and spouses and church families and coworkers at the slightest provocation.
Does God give you the right to vent your anger or frustration with your words? Does that fit anywhere in the kingdom of love?
“He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
I John 2:9-11 NKJV
How did Jesus use His tongue? Did He ever respond in blind rage? No.
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.”
Isaiah 53:7 NKJV
He did have firm words for the disobedient, and when He comes again, the Bible says He will judge the world with His tongue. I find that fascinating: Nothing is more powerful than the tongue.
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.
And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Revelation 19:15-16 NKJV
Take care with your tongue today. Lay your weapon down. Give it to Jesus and ask Him to turn it into something useful and loving.
“He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Isaiah 2:4 NKJV