Browsing the magazines at Barnes and Noble, I noticed that the Oct-Nov 2009 issue of the magazine Tathaastu featured an article “What Does Your Tongue Tell You?” I glanced at the article and realized the topic was the contours of the physical tongue.
I had in mind the metaphorical meaning of “tongue” as speech. This topic worries me to death. I tend to be a ‘venter’ at home (not in public), in the sense of articulating my inner feelings at home and trying to deal with frustrations, old hurts, and so on. This kind of thing can be psychologically healthy, but you can get into the habit of venting, so that you’re not dealing with your difficult feelings anymore and have just become grouchy and intolerant. You have to take care not to encourage and cultivate the negative things in your heart. The things you say, whether in private or public, do reflect your soul!
Some well-known verses address the connection of speech and heart/soul.
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles (Matt. 15:18).
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. …If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless (James 1:19-26).
Worthless religion! Oh my gosh, how many people do you know whose religion is worthless by James' criteria? How is your own religion?
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh (James 3:1-12).
We have a wonderful gift of discernment about the state of our souls! All we have to do is listen to ourselves for a while! Do we like what we hear? Since our speech reflects the content of our hearts, do we conform to James’ vision of God’s will for us?
Fortunately, we are saved by grace and not our own efforts. Recognizing this, we can seek the Lord's help every day, for as long as we need.