Act Like A Man! Part 11

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By Melvin Twigg Mason

“Never doubt the power of the tiny tongue — and never underestimate it,” says R. Kent Hughes in the second chapter of the section on Character in his book, “Disciplines of a Godly Man.” Basing his comments on the passage found in James 3:2-10, Hughes begins the Discipline of the Tongue by painting a not-so-pretty portrait of its negative power. “James adds [the tongue is] ‘set on fire by hell.'” Here, the language means continually set on fire. James uses the same word, gehenna. It is derived from the name of the perpetually burning garbage dump outside Jerusalem, a place of fire and filth where. . .’their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’ (Mark 9:47).”

Hughes tries to display both the bad AND the good sides of the tongue’s capability. He starts out by listing the not-so-good attributes:

  • Gossip – often unfounded rumors that shine a poor or negative light on someonecourtesy of
  • Innuendo – this cousin to gossip is a disparaging or derogatory insinuation about a person or situation
  • False Flattery – excessive and/or insincere praise
  • Destructive Criticism – the act of passing severe judgment; fault-finding
  • Diminishment – causing someone to feel less than; being demeaning of others

The Bible says, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” The author confirms that this is especially true of a person who is under stress as “the tongue will inevitably reveal what is on the inside. . .[it] is compulsively revealing.”

On the other hand, the power of the tongue can be wielded positively. The “disciplined tongue”, as Hughes calls it, can be:

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  • Evangelical – to proclaim the life-changing message of God’s salvation
  • Sanctifying – to set apart as sacred; to render legitimate, such as when we bless
  • Healing – bringing together relationships, peacemaking; binding emotional wounds
  • Worshipful – to “Ascribe ye greatness to our God, He is the Rock.” (Deut. 32:3-4)

To accomplish the positive outcomes of the Discipline of the Tongue, Hughes says you must do three things:

  1. Ask God to cauterize your speech. That is, to cleanse or cure your conversations of unwholesome dialogue
  2. Walk in ongoing prayerfulness. Regular and specific prayer concerning the use of your tongue
  3. Discipline yourself towards positive uses of your tongue. Actually making resolutions in that regard, such as lovingly speaking the truth, and perhaps refraining from sarcasm or degrading humor or gossip.

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Gentlemen, ask yourself, do you offer flattery to people’s face yet never say such things away from their presence? Are folks lifted or diminished by what you say? Can you think of a time when the words of someone really helped guide you or heal your mind or spirit? If so, don’t you want to do the same for someone else? As the saying goes, “Pass it forward!” In our next article we’ll look at the Discipline (not punishment!) of Work. Stay tuned!