Proverbs Eighteen, verse twenty one, from the Amplified Bible says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”
I am learning to consciously appreciate talk for everything it represents. Talk is defined; speak in order to give information or express ideas or feelings; converse or communicate by spoken words
People die because of something said. Tongues can be weapons of mass destruction, launching holocausts and wars. Tongues can also be the death of marriages, families, friendships, churches, careers, hopes, understanding, reputations, missionary efforts, and governments.
People also live because of something said. The tongue can be a ‘tree of life’ as seen in Proverbs Fifteen verse four. Tongues reconcile peoples and make peace. Blessed are the peacemakers; as seen in Matthew Five verse Nine. Tongues can make marriages sweet, families strong, and churches healthy. Tongues can give hope to the despairing, advance understanding, and spread the gospel.
So, do tell, what will come out of your mouth today, death or life? ‘Sword thrusts’ or healing, as seen in Proverbs Twelve verse Eighteen.
Unless the wronged party expresses their dissatisfaction in how they have been treated, will the offending party realize their ‘faux pas’.
The beloved one sulking all day, does little to communicate, to the loved one, that this loud silence and sour countenance have need for dialogue for the beloved’s mood to then be transformed into a bright smile and light heart, detailing the loved one’s role in the restorative process.
The Golden Rule , otherwise known as the ethic of reciprocity, which means we believe that people should endeavor to treat each other as they would like to be treated themselves, with tolerance, compassion and consideration.
Some versions of the Golden Rule are;
Bahai faith: Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not.” “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself. Baha’u’llah
Buddhism: …a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another? Samyutta NIkaya v. 353
Christianity: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew Seven verse Twelve King James Version.
Confucianism: What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do to men. Analects 15:23
Islam: None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself. Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.” 3
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a.
Let’s test this theory. If you found yourself on the receiving end of criticism, comparison and complaining, would you have the presence of mind, in the moment, to respond in a way that feeds the Golden Rule dictates? Share your thoughts on the subject with me in the comments section, won’t you?
Different people, religious schools of thought, societies, cultures and tribes, if you will, have their own interpretation of the Golden Rule. In Buganda there is a saying ‘Yagaliza munno nga gwe bweweyagaliza’ which when translated loosely, means, ‘Desire for the next person, what you’d desire yourself.’
When I was younger, I remember one of my siblings being unusually quiet, and had a poor appetite for most of Mother’s cooking. In an effort to get her child to bulk up and take mealtime seriously, she invited one of our cousins to the house for a meal. This cousin had no qualms with food. You can imagine the scene unfolding. Mother plated up for them on the same wide plate, a delectable layout of pilau rice with green peas and some beef. Cousin dearest ate steadily, crossing from their end of the plate and into my quiet sibling’s corner. The trick worked. My quiet, poor appetite sibling soon realized that they would come away from this meal hungry unless they spoke up. If they did not talk, nothing was stopping this hoover machine of a plate mate. And true to form, they let out a shrill yelp, “Mommy, this boy is eating all the food??!” I don’t remember how that played out, but thankfully this sibling has since developed a healthy appreciation for meal times, complete with the form that comes with it.
Another time, Mother dearest threw me a birthday party when during the celebrations, I had the urge to communicate something to her. Given how good a hostess she is, she was busy hosting, I couldn’t get a word in sideways. My young mind reasoned, if I can get to high enough ground, maybe then will I be able to get her attention. I found the closest high stool, climbed up onto it, and when Mother was within reach of my short hands, I distinctly remember grabbing a hold of her chin and blurting out, “Mommy?! I’m talking to you!” I have since come to learn not to be so ‘in-your-face’ with my need to express myself, it is an on-going lesson.
So, taking into consideration, the various presentations in the form of situations that you might find yourself in, whether it is an inconsiderate road user that you are met with, or an unkind stranger taking out their frustration on you, or the service provider who does not value you as a customer, take a moment to talk things through. Empathise with them, and work towards an amicable solution and for the sake of peace prevailing.
Since we are held responsible for every word we speak, I think we had better listen very carefully to what we are saying, not just to our brethren, but also to ourselves. Notice what Jesus said: “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned”(Mt.12:36-37). Let us look at the words, justified and condemned a little more closely. By being Justified — we are being freed from all blame, we are without guilt and we are shown or proven to be right. Condemned means — to be pronounced unfit for use, guilty. By our own words we can be free from blame and without guilt, or we can pronounce ourselves guilty and unfit for the use of God. If it is the Word of God — it is Life, it is freedom. If it is ourselves speaking — it is death, and words of death will destroy, kill everyone that hears us; and not only they who hear us, but ourselves as well. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
Lastly James 3: 5-6 has some sound advice.
He warns that the size of the tongue is no measure of the power it wields. Just as the tiniest of sparks can ignite a great forest fire, the smallest of words, unwisely spoken, can cause immeasurable harm.
Uncontrolled and untamed, without interference, a fire can spread to leave absolutely nothing untouched, unscorched, and unaffected. It is startling to think that fire, of itself, could erase all life from the earth! Were it to burn and spread unaffected by rain, wind, or the efforts of man, it could conceivably cover the earth and burn all life and all oxygen from our world.
Anyone who has witnessed a forest fire and seen flames leap from one treetop to another can grasp the traveling power of fire. James wants us to capture this graphic vision of the potential destruction our words perpetuated in sin can achieve. The iniquity created and perpetuated by words can spread to the ultimate of all damages: death. Solomon writes, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Does man have any other ability that can cause such a degree of devastation?
I leave that to you.