Sunday, February 13, 2011

“What’s the matter with the dog?”

I looked from the book I was reading to glance at my son. “What?”

“Max.” He pointed. “His tongue is sticking out the side of his mouth.”

I got up to look. Sure enough, Max’s tongue was protruding out from his lips. “Max, let me see.” I bent down and gently pried open his mouth. Large red welts dotted his tongue, the inside of his cheeks, and his gums. “Oh my gosh! Go get your dad.”

While my son complied, I picked Max up and carried him to the kitchen. Once again, he closed his mouth but was unable to control his tongue. It poked out further than before.

“What happened?” my husband asked.

I showed him.

“Looks like he got into some fire ants.”

I rubbed Max’s head. “You think that’s what it is?”

My husband nodded. “His tongue is probably numb. That’s why he’s having trouble controlling it.”

After much consideration, we decided against taking Max to vet, figuring we’d wait to see if the swelling went down on its own. It did, but the whole episode made me pause.

People sometimes have just as much trouble controlling their tongue as Max did on this day, myself included. Why is this such a difficult part of the flesh to conquer? Can it be that we enjoy camouflaging our idle gossip beneath the guise of caring? God understood our weakness and warned against the corruption that can come to us by an unbridled tongue. The choice whether or not to listen is up to us.

James 3:1-12 (New International Version, ©2010)

Taming the Tongue

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.


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