I was recently at my dentist for a routine dental hygiene appointment. As I reclined in the dental chair, the hygienist craftily used a mirror and scaler to locate and remove the stains and plaque between my teeth and along my gumline. She then applied fluoride to protect my teeth from decay and used dental floss to remove any material caught between them. Afterwards, the dentist came in and used a “pick” to carefully explore for any small areas of decay that have potential to grow into cavities.
As I was being tended to, I considered the great effort being put into ensuring that I have healthy teeth by the profession of dentistry. I then thought about how it is that we do not have such a profession to maintain our tongues.
I would like to coin a new profession called tonguistry. Tonguistry is the art and science of keeping a healthy tongue. The tongue is a small organ, but is arguably the most powerful in the body. In fact, the Bible teaches that “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). James compares the tongue to a small spark in a forest that has the potential to set the whole forest on fire. (James 3:5-6)
On the one hand, the tongue can be used as a sharpened razor or sharp sword (Ps. 52:2, 57:4, Pr 12:18), a deadly bow and arrow (Jer. 9:3, 8), a consuming fire (Is. 30:27), a north wind that brings unexpected (unwanted) rain (Pr. 25:23) or a venomous viper (Ps. 140:3, Rom 3:13). On the other hand, it is an organ that can bring soothing like the pen of a skilled writer (Ps 45:1), offer the power of persuasion and can crush bones (Ps. 25:15), be used to praise God and in the mouth of the righteous is described as “choice silver” (Pr. 10:20) encouraging others and building up lives.
With the same tongue you use to worship and praise God you can also be boastful, crafty, deceitful, flatter, and spread false accusations, gossip and malice against others who have been made in God’s likeness.
Will you choose to speak life or speak death into the lives of others today? How about declaring that your tongue will only build up and not tear down? Jesus Christ declared that at the end times, you will be acquitted and condemned by the words you speak. (Matt 12:36-38). If you cannot say anything good about someone how about keeping quiet? The book of Proverbs teaches that “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 17:28). King David practiced tonguistry in declaring “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” (Ps. 39:1). Will you join me in also practicing tonguistry today? May God’s Spirit resident within you grant you the ability to always speak life!