Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Words mean things:Tongues are the Messenger

There is much said in the Bible about the tongue! It gets the blame for much evil and the credit for speaking good. The tongue is little more than soft tissue in the mouth which animals use for various things, including speaking. The tongue is the strongest muscle in the body and is classified as a "voluntary muscle". Those which are voluntary work without thought. Whether your think it or not, the heart beats and the liver processes. They do their job without you telling them to do so!

On the other hand the tongue takes instructions from a person's cognition. It seems that it is involuntary because it does things automatically, but unlike the heart which you cannot "will" to stop its movement, everyone can stop the tongue whether eating, drinking or speaking. People say "I spoke without thinking!" That implies that their tongue had the cognition and the ability to move on its own! That's not the case. We are taught to control the tongue:
Psalm 34:13 (ESV) Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
At times the Bible speaks metaphorically:
Psalm 52:2 (ESV) Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.
This metaphor seems to say that the tongue has the cognition. It does not! It's an instrument of the mind: "like a sharp razor". When we speak evil, the tongue isn't to blame. However, the tongue can make sounds which destroy and are hurtful.  "Words" are the product of the tongue (with help from the mind, diaphragm, trachea, epiglottis, lips and even the teeth). None of those muscles are moved without direction from the mind!

Rather than blaming the tongue for speaking evil or crediting it for good, just substitute "speech" wherever "tongue" is written. Speech is an audible expression of opinions, ideas, etc. when it's expressed using language. What we have is that the mind forms opinions and ideas, it's made audible by speech and the tongue is the largest contributor to the audible sounds heard. Actually, a person without a tongue can still speak, but it's muffled and distorted. Therefore, using "speak" and "speech" for tongue includes the tongue, emotion and the mind!
James 3:6 (ESV) And the tongue (speech) is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue(speech)  is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
In the previous passage the tongue "or member" is blamed for stained speech. This is just common vernacular. Even those in times of old knew that the tongue was only the messenger of the mind!
James 3:8 (ESV) "...but no human being can tame the tongue (speech). It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Taming the tongue is done through thought. "Thought" includes the cognition it takes to feed ideas and opinions to the tongue. It really takes all the members of the body (muscles) working in unison to produce speech. The mind does a good job of having them operate in unison and harmony, but a poor job in what comes out!
Romans 7:23 (ESV) "But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members."
It's obvious here that "members" are the controllable parts of the body. Our physical heart and lungs don't wage war, but those which pleasure. The sexual organs provide pleasure as do hands, feet, eyes, the nose and many others. We enjoy our senses of touch, sight, taste, smell and sound. They send back signals to the mind. Oftentimes those signals are out of the will of God; even evil signals. That's what Paul's talking about. Our minds respond to the members which he often calls "the flesh":
Galatians 5:19-(ESV) "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
It appears that most of the "works of the flesh" are sensual and of the members, but also there are fleshly desires. Those are of the mind which result in pleasing the members through the senses. However, all go back to the master controller. The members' roles are to please the mind!

People use their speech to intimidate. Speech is a weapon:
Psalm 64:2 (ESV) Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
    from the throng of evildoers,
3 who whet their tongues (speech) like swords,
    who aim bitter words (speech) like arrows,
4 shooting from ambush at the blameless,
    shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
People basically take aim when the mind and the tongue delivers the damage. It's not the tongue which truly destroys, but wicked thinking!

We're called on to control that voluntary muscle since our mind can turn it on and off. Speech is controlled by closing the mouth and holding the tongue. Quit blaming innocent members! The fault lies within the "heart". From a biblical standpoint the "heart" is a relationship between emotions (and spirit) and thinking. Our mind and our spirit communicate and that communication is "the heart". In order to control speech, our hearts must be in accord with God's will. Satan gives the heart incentive to do evil, but God being "good" is stronger than Satan, but we must desire to do his will. How do we control our speech?
James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.
Implied here is that the tongue is the messenger of "the heart". By "deceived" it implies that the heart is of the mind. It's in the mind that we're deceived, but the soul works in conjunction with the mind. An empty soul has no part in controlling the heart. Satan fills that emptiness with evil! However, a soul filled with God's Spirit has power over the mind and the heart does right. Our emotions are Godly. If our emotions are Godly, the tongue is tamed! A bridle is girded about it and that bridle is "the heart".

Wisdom is a gift of God which helps to control the heart. If one is grounded in the Word and is responsive to the Holy Spirit, the heart is healed and speech is temperate! Speech doesn't have to corrupt. It can heal:
Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
The "tree of life" is holy living; living Christlike as can be seen in the previous passage. If the tongue (speech) is wicked, it "breaks the spirit". Actually, it doesn't say whose spirit is broken, but it can both the speaker and the hearer. Those sensitive to the Holy Spirit cannot be pleased with perverse speech. Guilt is the result of using the tongue as a sword! However, hurt even more is the hearer for they are the target at which the speaker takes aim.

People say things to hurt others. If the Holy Spirit is not heeded, Satan implants the idea in the heart and the tongue follows orders! Perverse things are spoken. Some things are with malice aforethought. People intend to hurt with "words". "Words" are the sounds which transmit the ideas in speaking. Words mean things and perverse meanings "breaks the spirit" of others; the ones we're told to love!

At other times it's our sub-conscious in action. Satan uses that faculty without the person being aware. It's because all men have a perverse nature and the heart can only be tempered by God's Spirit. People use "jokes" to hurt. Those jokes are a reflection of the condition of the heart which psychology calls "Freudian Slips". The mind works with such speed to protect the ego (protection and esteem of the self) that it conceals emotions and thoughts with disguises. Jokes can be, but aren't necessarily, a mechanism to belittle others in an attempt to elevate ourselves!

Words mean things! Some things build up; other things can cut deep into another's soul! Harmful words can break the spirit of another. What words are those?: denigrating physical attributes, belittling others thinking or mental capacity, ridiculing age or health, manipulating their emotions and withholding friendship and love. Cutting words transmit antipathy; and expresses that the hearer is unloved or marginalized!

How do we bridle the tongue? It's by empathy which is given to us by God. "Empathy" allows us to replace our own feelings with the feelings of others. If what you're going to say would hurt you, don't say it because it will hurt the other!  Here's biblical empathy:
Luke 6:31(ESV) "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."
Few of us like for others to hurt us. Then don't hurt others! That's how we're to show our love for them!

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