Everyone has heard either lessons or lectures or something on the danger of the tongue. Obviously, the Bible and in particular, the book of James comes to mind when thinking about this subject.
First I want to tell you about something that happened one day when dad and I were hunting. I was barely a teenager when it happened. Dad had what looked to me to be a ‘canon’ (12 guage shotgun), and I had a 410 shotgun. I loved that rifle! I was excited about the prospects of going out with dad on this hunting trip. We were hunting for dove that day. We were out at the ‘break of dawn’ and had been hunting for a while, but no luck. Doves must’ve heard that dad was coming and they decided to sleep in or something. But they were no where to be found
We were getting tired, and kinda bored. Dad fired off a couple of shots, (just to be sure the gun was working well of course). I did the same thing. I remember we were walking along a dirt road, and the field on one side was fenced with posts every 15 feet, and strands of old rusty barbed wire. Dad happened to find an old fruit juice quart can that had been opened and was empty. So he said, “Jack, put the can on the post, and I’ll shoot it and see how far it travels.” Well I was excited about this, so I placed it on the post, and evened it up and made sure it wasn’t going to fall. Dad got his rifle ready, poised himself, and was standing at a fair distance to be sure he didn’t miss, (about 3 feet). BOOM!! One shot (100 pellets), sent the can flying. I went and got the can, brought it to him.
The most unusual look came over dad’s face, as he held this can in his hand and looked at it. “You know what this is, son?” I said, “Dad, it’s a can.” (Thinking something is wrong with dad.) “No, son… this is the heart of many a person, after a well meaning, God fearing Christian has gone out and tried to ‘win them to Christ’. “This is what the person’s heart looks like when a person goes out and takes the Word of God, and blasts away, thinking they are just ‘doin’ the right thing’.
I have never forgotten that day. Dad has held up this can all around the world, trying to help Christians understand the power of the tongue, a careless, blunt, tongue.
O, it’s not the piece of flesh per say, as much as it’s the heart that needs adjustment.
I have thought often about this illustration that dad used, and have used it as well, to help me. Watch what you say, son. You have a hard time fixing someone’s heart once it is ‘blown apart’ by carelessness.
James says it this way, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20) “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” (James 3:2) James continues to speak of putting “bits” in horses mouths, and “rudders” on ships, and how these things determine the direction for the horse and ship. It is amazing how a small thing like the tongue, can cause so much damage. Yet it has the potential to accomplish so much good.
Over the years the ‘old can’ with the result of the shotgun blast, has been viewed by many, many people. Some have learned the lesson, and some have not. The one question dad asked me after he looked at this can on that day, that I could not answer… “HOW DO YOU PUT A PERSON’S HEART BACK TOGETHER?” My answer… “I don’t know.” Jesus can heal. Jesus can help. Far better to be careful what we say, and how we say it.