Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Taming the Caged Monster

Taming the Caged Monster

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” – Proverbs 12:18
Have you ever shed tears over something someone said about you?  I’d suggest that no one that read that question answered ‘no’!  We’ve all been there.  Through unthinking brains and untamed tongues we’ve all been slashed by the sword of the tongue.  Many of us are recalling those hurtful words now, all over again, at the simple mention of being hurt.  The pain does not go away, it just lies dormant from time to time.

Have you ever said something about someone and later regretted it?  Again, I’d suggest that we all answer that question with a shameful ‘yes’.  The tongue seems to speak sometimes without engaging the brain, being cold and cruel.  As much as a sword of steel can injure the physical body, the sword in our mouths can cause deep gaping wounds in the heart of those it slashes.  And though an apology is given, the memory of what was said remains.
There’s been a big push in schools lately to stop bullying.  We’ve all realized that our children don’t understand the cutting nature of their words.  We’re working to resolve that by teaching them not to make ugly comments about another’s differences, and use hurtful names.  But let’s stop a minute and ask ourselves how our children learn such behavior.  Is it not from our own examples? 

Our little unthinking statements like “Wow! She’s put on weight” gets repeated as “You’re fat!”  Statements like “They don’t seem to care for their children” become “Even your parents don’t like you.”  Or “Why don’t they get that kid a tutor!” can be turned quickly into “You’re stupid”.  Though we may say it gracefully using a larger vocabulary than our children, are we not saying the same thing?  If they hear you speak negativity, they learn to speak negativity.  Likewise, if you allow your words to build up with things like “You look nice!” or “Good for you!”  they will learn to channel their negative thoughts into positive words. 
Let’s take that a step further and notice that if our children are with caregivers and their friends more than they are with us.  We need to be cautious of what they hear from others.  We don’t elect role models for our children.  Our children handpick them.   

Considering the damage that it can do, it seems so fitting that God placed it within a cage of clenched teeth, and covered with a thick layer of strong and guarding lips and cheeks. The tongue is the caged monster, given by God.  It can be trained to say good things, or left alone, will be completely barbaric and cruel.  It will “just slip out” of its cage if not trained by a spirit of love, longsuffering compassion, kindness, and peace.  Given a poor trainer, the monster may devour even the trainer himself, ruining his own reputation. 
So how to do we train the tongue?  Is there a twelve step program to follow?  Can you print some exercises off the internet?  Are there special daily activities to follow?  Nope.  It’s not the tongue we tame.  It’s the heart.

In Matthew 12:34-35 Jesus says to the Pharisees, Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of THE HEART the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his HEART brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”
If your heart is evil, your words will be evil as well.  Apples don’t grow on orange trees!  Clean out the evil in your hearts, and change the diet of the monster in your mouth.  Jesus says “A good man”, which are those that are found righteous in Him, “out of the good treasure of his heart” says good things.  The Holy Spirit in you, giving you instruction and guidance, will transform your heart and drive out the evil. 

Listen to your words.  Listen to the words of your children, grandchildren, and those that look to you as a role model.  Is it time to train the caged monster?

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