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Taming the Tongue

by Stephen Kimball  
4/20/2018 / Teen Issues

The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. [Proverbs 15:4 (NIV)]

It’s been a problem for a long time. Oh, they have always bickered back and forth – you know, like brothers do. But, a couple of years ago, the older one really began to ramp it up. The insults became constant. He would put Reese down whenever he had the opportunity. “Shut up” and “stupid” was common language. At first I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Personal insults had always been off limits in our home. “He is your only brother, for goodness sake!” I would often shout, in a cry of utter frustration. For a long time, I would just fume every time I heard an unkind word leave his lips. I took it personally - I knew those arrows were making their way straight to the heart of my little one. Over time, it began to wear us down. No matter how much we pleaded with him we felt like we couldn’t stop it. We always told Reese to just “brush it off” and that “deep down he really loves you” but he had such a sensitive spirit and I could tell that it wounded him each time his brother, the brother he idolized, would use such careless words. As parents, of course, it hurt us too. We hurt for both kids – for different reasons. As much as it affected me, I guess that didn’t compare to how deep the hurt must have been in Reese. Here is what he wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m sorry I couldn’t be everything you wanted me to be.
You are better off without me.
You told me over and over again that God is love. I am counting on that. 
P. S. Tell Clayton I am sorry I wasn’t a better brother.
I hope he won’t be annoyed so much anymore.
Tell him that deep down, I love him too.

God tells us in His word that the tongue has incredible power. We can use our words to bring blessing and life or curses and death. The tongue can be difficult to control and can leave us with great regret if used to hurt. The Bible tells us, however, that with the help of the Holy Spirit we can have power and control over our tongue.

God, help me to be aware of the words I speak. Help me to be kind and to love people like you love people. Remind me, when I open my mouth, to always choose words of life, encouragement and healing. 

*This is a work of fiction

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