What is the most powerful part of the human body? Contrary to what some may think, the tongue is considered the most powerful part of the human body according to what we see written in the Scriptures. Here we read that it has the power of death and life. Elsewhere we see that the words that come from it can injure like the thrusts of a sword. James has what is probably the most powerful commentary on the power of the tongue in chapter three of his letter.
"So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison." (James 3:5-8)
James warns us of the very powerful, and potentially very destructive power of the tongue. We can bless or curse with it. A carelessly spoken word like a carelessly thrown match can set an entire forest on fire. But the word can set a life - and indeed a whole group of lives on fire with gossip and slander. Therefore we would be very wise in being very careful with how we let our tongue's loose in the world. It would also be wise of us to heed the admonition given by Paul to the Ephesians when he said, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29)
Those who love this power of the tongue, are warned that they will eat of its fruit. Consider the man who destroys others with his words. He writes and speaks so as to destroy his political opponents - and loves the power that this brings to him. He does so until the day another more silver-tongued than him uses this same power to dismember him in the public eye. The power of the tongue is intoxicating - but it is also explosive and very dangerous if not used under the direction of Holy Spirit. But when used in this way - the tongue is not something whcih brings death - but rather a tool in God's hand to bring life and life abundantly!
The tongue is also the instrument in God's hands to bring the gospel to others. "How blessed are the feet of those who bring good news," is the delightful refrain for those who speak forth the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our tongues can share the gospel with others and be that aroma of life to life as they are born again by the power and mercies of God. We have the glorious opportunity to speak life every day! So, as we look at this proverb may we both fear and rejoice - may we be both overjoyed and cautious - may we both be silent and vociferous. May we see the destructive power of the tongue and shun it completely - and - may we see the life-giving power of the tongue and joyeously share the good news with total abandon.