An old farm couple who had experienced a rocky marriage were riding in their wagon one evening. As the two horses pulled them along in the moonlight, something of the early romance rekindled in the heart of the wife. She snuggled up to her husband, took his arm, and remarked about how nicely the horses worked together, separated only by the tongue of the wagon. The husband, after a second of thought replied, “We could probably get along better too if we had only one tongue between us.”
Harsh tongues are often the cause of many unhappy marriages and relationships. The phrase, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is absolutely not true! Reckless words do hurt! Solomon describes it in this manner, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords” [Prov 12:18a]. Just as a thrust by a sharp sword can cause great pain to the body, reckless words can cause great pain to the soul! And imagine if that sword/reckless words is thrust again and again!
Our words do have an effect on people. It is not something that we can be casual about. Have you ever squeezed too much toothpaste onto your toothbrush? And then have you ever tried squeezing the excess toothpaste back into the tube? That calls to mind the old proverb, “Three things once released will not return again: an opportunity neglected, an arrow released from its bows, and a word spoken in haste.” Remember when you hurt someone, you are hurting someone made in the image of God [Jas 3:9]!
The opposite of hurting words are healing words—words that are meant to build rather than break a person. That’s why Solomon in the same verse went on to say, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing” [Prov 12:18b].
We need to pray constantly in asking the Lord to give us a tongue that is under the control of the Holy Spirit. Only then, he will use our tongue to be an instrument of healing rather than causing pain to others!