King Solomon, the wisest man who ever walked the earth said in Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the hands of the tongue.” This sounds strange; since when does the tongue have a hand? This is a metaphor that’s easy to understand. If the mouth is a gun, then the tongue is the trigger. Not only is it the trigger, but it’s the hand that pulls the trigger. What’s worse is that the tongue can misfire. When it does, it’s every bit as dangerous as a loaded pistol. Hear this:
People who use firearms know that they must adhere to a number of safety measures. They don’t release the pistol’s safety lock unless they want to immediately activate it. Why? If the pistol has a sensitive trigger, the slightest jolt could make it fire. They also remove the ammo clip from the pistol when it’s not in use.
Shot in the Foot, or Worse
Those who failed to adhere to safety measures have had major mishaps with firearms. The National Safety Council reports that in the USA alone in 2019, there were nearly 40,000 deaths from firearms. Suicides accounted for 60% of those deaths. Would you believe that tongues are more lethal than firearms, and suicidal too?
We all shudder from the mere mention of suicide and rightfully so. Yet, unwitting people who fail to take necessary precautions with their mouths are also liable to kill themselves, Heaven forbid! If we hear about someone who was burned with boiling water, then we become more cautious even when coming in contact with lukewarm water.
Therefore, I’m going to share with you two incidents that happened right here in Israel. Hopefully, we’ll learn to be just as careful with our tongues as we are with a hairline trigger on 45-caliber Smith-Wesson.
The Cemetery Worker
Our first incident took place in the city of Afula, overlooking the picturesque Jezreel Valley. A group of cemetery workers from the Afula Burial Society was doing landscaping work in a beautiful new section of the cemetery, on the side of a hill overlooking the valley. One of the workers, a healthy guy in his early forties, was so enthralled that he said that he would die to be buried there. That night, he suffered a massive heart attack. Sure enough, he was the first person to be buried in the new section.
The Expectant Mom
A young mother in her early thirties had already given birth to three very healthy but rowdy little boys. She was about to give birth to her fourth child. When she entered the maternity ward in a Jerusalem hospital, she told the attending nurse that she was dying to have a baby girl. She did have a baby girl, but she died in childbirth.
It’s no Joke
Without paying attention to what comes out of their mouths, people often curse themselves without even knowing it. The tongue is powerful. A loving compliment can save a depressed person from suicide. Yet, a word in the wrong place is just as powerful as a bullet in the wrong place. If we don’t have a safety lock on our tongues like the Smith & Wesson has on the trigger, we should at least filter what we say. That means, think about what we’re going to say before we say it.
We must be careful about what we say. When we use speech to pray and to bless people, we build the world. Yet, the power of building can also be a power of destruction. Speech creates a powerful form of spiritual energy that can build the world or destroy it. Our dream is to build the world and our worst nightmare is to destroy ourselves. Therefore, let’s be careful with our tongues and extra careful about how we use them. Our lives depend on it,