From Nike’s “Just do it” to Mastercard’s “There are some things money can’t buy,” company slogans highlight the reality that the guys discuss today: the tremendous power of words! Words have the ability to shape and destroy people and relationships, and they pervade our lives. As the book of James affirms, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it is also both untamed and mighty enough as a small flame to set an entire forest ablaze. Our responsibility as Christians is to work at taming our tongues, using words (in person or even online!) with self-control. In evangelistic conversations, Christians must guard against the pitfall of demonizing other people and debating without empathy. In evangelism and in general, both what we say and how we say it matter; a tone of harshness pollutes even the best of words! Gossip represents another major pitfall. It is an affront to a person’s status as an image-bearer, and we must guard against it even in conversations that concern public figures.
Since the tongue is the thermometer of the heart, not only can it showcase sin within, but it can also be a mighty tool for pointing people to the Lord. We can use our words to build up other Christians with intentional encouragement, and to share the gospel with unbelievers. The guys remind us that even our idle words will be judged, and that being a leader (in whatever spheres the Lord has placed us in this role) requires great care with words. They also point out that communication takes both verbal and nonverbal forms, and we have the ability and responsibility to love in both areas. In light of these realities and the fact that we so often fail in taming our tongues, it is crucial to remain centered on God and His words. After all, His perfect words created life, and His perfect words continue to pour forth from the pages of the Bible and to create new life in Christ. Even as we time and again fail in our use of words, we can remember with gratitude that God has spoken better words of freedo from condemnation!