The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 8, 2014

The tongue holds a lot of power

By Patsy Sorrels, columnist
Enid News & Eagle

— I love it when I come across a book or hear a message that expresses my heart. I especially love it when that little light goes on deep inside, and my knower button gets pushed. It’s like a charge of electricity running right through me, and I know I can take that one to the bank.

More times than not, what you are reading are my thoughts and words, my experience as a Christian and what it means to have faith, to be a believer in Jesus Christ. That God would use me, an imperfect, cracked and worn vessel to tell Enid and the world that He loves them, is mind-boggling, to say the least. Which makes me even more grateful for the giants who go before me, leaving behind their nuggets of wisdom and revelation that I might glean from their field, their harvest. Charles Swindoll, author, renowned speaker and pastor, is just one of those giants.

Concerning the tongue, Swindoll once wrote, “To the physician it’s merely a two-ounce slab of mucous membrane enclosing a complex array of muscles and nerves that enable our bodies to chew, taste and swallow. Equally significant, it is the major organ of communication that enables us to articulate distinct sounds so we can understand each other.”

Without the tongue, no mother could sing her baby to sleep, no ambassador could adequately represent our nation, no teacher could stretch the minds of students, no officer could lead his fighting men in battle, no attorney could defend the truth in court, no pastor could comfort troubled souls, no complicated, controversial issue could ever be discussed and solved. Our entire world would be reduced to unintelligible grunts and shrugs. Seldom do we pause to realize just how valuable this strange muscle in our mouth really is.

The tongue is as volatile as it is vital. It was Washington Irving who first said, “A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.” It was James, the half-brother of Jesus, who first warned: “The tongue is a fire … a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (James 3:6,8).

Who would think something so small, so well hidden, could hold such power? We can tame Flipper and Trigger and Shamu and Lassie. We can train falcons to land on our wrist, pigeons to carry our messages, dogs to fetch the paper, elephants to stand on rolling balls, tigers to sit on stools and alligators to turn over and get their bellies rubbed. But, the tongue is impossible to tame, defiant and rebellious, it can be verbal cyanide, lethal and relentless, ready to destroy at will. Makes you shutter a little, doesn’t it?

King David stated bluntly in Psalms 39:1 “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle.” Sheds a whole new light on the word ‘sin’ and why God hates it so much. Not so much our actions, as it is our words. The action usually follows, once it’s rolled off the tongue. Mainly because it’s been rolling around in our thoughts for awhile before it finally made it’s way to the tongue. Think about it. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it” (Proverbs 18:21).

That’s the answer in a nutshell, my friends. That’s what it takes. A tight, conscious muzzle on the muscle in our mouth. That and our thought life. We need to get a grip on both.

Like David, we can put a muzzle on our mouth by doing two things:

1. Think first – just pause for 10 seconds and mentally think about what you are about to say.

2. Talk less, listen more – your chances of “open mouth, insert foot” are directly proportional to the amount of time you spend with your mouth open. Muzzle it! Listen to those around you.

I leave you with this thought from William Norris, the American journalist who specializes in simple rhymes:

If your lips would keep from slips,

Five things observe with care;

to whom you speak; of whom you speak;

And how, and when, and where.

Keep the Faith and worship somewhere today.

References from Charles Swindoll’s book, “Growing strong in the seasons of life.”

Sorrels is News & Eagle editorial assistant and can be reached at or at (580) 548-8140.