Friday, August 5, 2016

The Power of the Tongue

J.J. Stark
August 5, 2016
Field Time: Browning, MT
Inductive Bible Study (IBS)
The Power of the Tongue
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
– Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

So many thoughts and scriptures are running through my head as I write this. I don’t have much to say on the tongue itself in this IBS, but instead let scripture be a testament to the truth of this verse. In recent weeks the power of the tongue has been a hard lesson, and one that I am still struggling to learn. The hypocritical and double-sidedness of my heart shames and disgusts me, and how it manifests itself in my actions and speech. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) James dedicates chapter 3 in his book almost entirely to the topic of the tongue, expounding on its power of both life and death.
2For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body…5Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things…6the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell…8no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men…10Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”
Rightly does he say “we stumble in many things”…and so often out my mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. I want to look at this though from the point of growing a tree. Proverbs 18:21 states that the tongue is capable of two options, but one will take precedence. “…Those who love it will eat its fruit.” This is implying that whichever side is more nourished is the one that will grow. I find myself asking again, despite already knowing the answer, what and where the root is? In Matthew 12:33-35 Jesus addresses this with the religious leaders:
33 Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.  34 Brood of vipers!  How can you, being evil, speak good things?  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 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.”
His Word is so vibrantly alive, splitting me open through His Spirit. Jesus is referring to the same options brought up in Proverbs: life and death. He takes it a step further, however. Though there are two options, there is only one choice, just as in Joshua 24:15, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” To put it another way, I must choose what fruit I am going to produce.  That choice is made in the heart, the soil in which the roots are sunk. And just as tree farmer daily waters and fertilizes his trees, so I must daily choose to drink with my heart the Living Water and nourish myself in communion with Him.

Application in Prayer
Lord Jesus, teach me to abide in Thy joy, that what may come forth from my mouth is an overflow.
Instill deep within mine heart Thy peace, that my tongue may speak life, and shun death.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Psalm 51:10-12 (KJV)