Monday, September 19, 2016

Bridle your tongue, you'll be the better for it

When you go to a doctor or your dentist for a checkup, one of the things he or she does is look at your tongue. That’s because the tongue is a physical barometer for good or bad health. Nice and pink with little bumps everywhere? Sounds just about right. Bright red? May be glossitis. White patches? Could be thrush. Too smooth? Possible vitamin deficiency.

The tongue is also a spiritual barometer for good and bad health. Jesus said, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” We see it in sports. Games are lost sometimes, not because of the play on the field, but because of the mouth of a coach or player. We see it in politics every day, and no presidential election in my memory has ever been marked on both sides by such a cesspool of vitriol and slander and lying and childish speech. Whoever loses this year’s presidential election can look in the mirror the next day, stick out his or her tongue and say, “You are the reason I lost!” We see it in churches and workplaces and homes, too. Marriages are damaged by careless speech, and people lose jobs or leave churches because of gossip or slander.

The tongue is a fire, James says, and it is set on fire by hell. I know that many of my troubles over the years have started with my mouth. In the ninth grade I challenged a guy named David Briggs to a fight after school because he was going with the girl I liked. The silly thing is that the girl didn’t like me! But then again, what does logic have to do with hormones? Anyway, I got in his face during lunch one day and said, “Me and you, Briggs. After school. In the wrestling room.” I said it with as much bravado as I could muster, as I looked up at David and poked him in the chest. He outweighed me by at least 75 pounds. He was an offensive lineman on the football team, an upperclassman, and a stud. I was a pipsqueak with an attitude. David looked down at me and laughed. Then he shook his head and said, “Are you serious? Fox, it’s not your day to die. Go pick a fight with someone your size.” That made me mad, so I poked him again and said, “See you after school.” Well, news travels fast of an execution. After school David and I stood on the center of the mat, and there were probably 100 kids around us, yelling and laughing and waiting to see the massacre. That’s when it happened. No, I didn’t execute a perfect flying roundhouse and knock David out. Nor did I put him in the sleeper hold that I had learned watching Championship Wrestling with my grandfather. Instead, David walked over, put his arm around my shoulders, and said with a friendly smile, “I’m not going to fight you, Fox.” He started to walk away, and I said, “You're afraid, aren’t you?” He turned and said, “Yes. I’m afraid I would kill you.” Then he walked out as I stood there trying to look tough, trying to look like I had actually won the fight.

Want to know what’s in your heart? Stick out your tongue. Listen to what rolls off it with ease. Then, ask the Lord to help you bridle it by changing your heart.

Your health depends on it, and your loved ones and friends will be forever grateful.

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