So I’m washing dishes the other day, and my son is training the dog. The dog, who has an apparent attention span of fifty seconds, is being encouraged to “sit” and “come” on command. Treats are involved, and a lot of walking around the kitchen giving imperatives firmly and loudly.
I’m tempted to issue my own command of cease-and-desist after about ten minutes of this, but I hold my tongue and instead appreciate how my son is actively engaged in teaching our doggie how to obey. Eventually the training ends for the day, but instead of just leaving the room, my son, who is now quite a bit taller than I am, hugs me as he’s walking by and plants a little smooch in my hair. I giggle and continue to wash.
Crystal clear to me was I would not have gotten that smooch if I hadn’t held my tongue. Sometimes I think we’re all in training, aren’t we?
It’s put me in mind of this chapter from James. It’s fascinating to me that James devoted an entire chapter to the power of one little muscle—the tongue.
1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
I’m taking this to heart today. If I use my voice to sing praise, I shouldn’t use that same voice to rail criticisms. I need to be like the fountain, which sends forth only sweet water, and like the vine, which bears consistent fruit.
I think my son would thank me for it.
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